Spanish expansion limits decline in overall EU pig herd

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

Provisional results of pig censuses from various EU Member States show that the pig herd has only declined slightly over the year to June 2021.

Census results are available from 12 countries, which covers about 90% of the EU pig herd. Overall, pig numbers across these countries were down by 0.5%, while breeding sow numbers were down by 1.3%.

With further falls in pig prices having taken place after the surveys were conducted, as well as ongoing high feed prices, further contraction is expected in the latter part of the year. Indeed, increased numbers of older, heavier pigs supported the total overall, with numbers of younger pigs showing some decline compared to last year. Nonetheless, only limited breeding herd decline (due to stronger maiden gilt numbers) could limit any contraction in pig numbers going forward.

Unless export markets improve, these supply levels may not offer much relief to the ongoing pressure on farmgate prices.

Previously, we have reported on Census results from Denmark, Germany and Ireland. These results, combined with the other countries that have now released figures, paint a rather mixed picture. Alongside Germany, sharp falls in pig numbers were recorded in Romania, Poland, and the Netherlands. In contrast, Spain was still reporting reasonable growth in both total pig numbers and the sow herd.

It may be that strong Spanish exports early in the year, helped by reduced competition from Germany due to the spread of African Swine Fever there, encouraged expansion. However, with the Chinese market now more difficult, Spanish pork markets have been under pressure.

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