Pigmeat production is declining in all EU countries, according to the European Commission.

In its latest short-term outlook for EU agricultural markets in 2023 and 2024, the Commission said that, in the first half of 2023, EU pigmeat production decreased by 8.6%.

The biggest reductions were recorded in Germany, down 210,000t or 9.4%, Denmark, down 189,000t or 21.5%, and Spain, down 150,000t or 5.8%.

This low EU supply has led to what the Commission described as “record high domestic prices”. However, the outlook report notes that since July, EU producer prices have started to show signs of a decline.

“As feed prices are decreasing and margins remain positive, carcase weights are expected to increase in the second half of the year. Overall, a production decline of 6.6% is expected in 2023,” the Commission said.

Consumption demand

While EU pigmeat production may have decreased this year, EU demand stays firm. However, given the reduced supply, the Commission projects that there will be an overall drop in EU per-capita pigmeat consumption of 5%, to 30.4 kg, for 2023.

“Besides reduced supply, the consumer considerations about price increases play an important role, which leads to a reduction of pigmeat consumption or a switch to other types of meat. In particular, pigmeat consumption is often reduced to the benefit of poultry meat.

Feed prices have decreased for pig farmers this year, the Commission found.

“If supply rebounds slightly, and so this increased availability could relax even more producer prices, a small increase in per-capita consumption might appear in 2024 as a reaction to this,” the Commission said.

Hit to exports

Less competitive EU pigmeat prices for 2023 are making exports to the global market a real challenge, the report found.

In the first half of 2023, EU pigmeat exports recorded a decline of 20%. Pigmeat production in China is recovering and so fewer imports are needed.

At the same time, the EU is losing market shares both in high value markets such as the US, Japan, Australia and low-value ones such as the Philippines due to stronger price competition.

Only the UK market shows a slight positive development, with 2.4% more pigmeat exports to the key market between January and June 2023.

In the first half of 2023, EU pigmeat exports recorded a decline of 20%.

Overall, EU exports in 2023 could be down by 16%, the Commission projects, adding that if prices continue declining, some market shares might be regained, resulting in a 5% increase in 2024.

UK imports

EU pigmeat imports from the UK decreased by almost 19% in the first half of 2023, following an increase of almost 28% in 2022. The reason behind this is that there is an ongoing decline in UK production.

As the UK represents more than 75% of EU pigmeat imports and no replacement of other origin is expected in the short term, EU pigmeat imports may decrease by 20% in 2023.

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