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Photo of EU breeding herd up for first time in nearly a decade

Bethan Wilkins

Analyst

AHDB Pork Market Intelligence

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EU breeding herd up for first time in nearly a decade

Home \ Prices & Stats \ News \ 2014 \ September \ EU breeding herd up for first time in nearly a decade

Figures from the May/June agricultural surveys carried out in the major EU Member States show an increase in the pig herd and, for the first time in nearly a decade, there was also an increase in the breeding herd.

Figures from the May/June agricultural surveys carried out in the major EU Member States show an increase in the pig herd and, for the first time in nearly a decade, there was also an increase in the breeding herd. Many of the smaller Member States only carry out surveys in December but those which do a summer one cover over 90% of the pig herd. Therefore, these results should hold for the EU as a whole. The total pig herd in the EU Member States carrying out a survey increased by 1% to 131.6 million head in the year to June 2014. However, the herd was still smaller than in 2011 or 2012, since when the industry has been impacted by new welfare regulations (including the partial sow stall ban) and high feed prices. With both these issues now in the past, however, the herd has been able to stabilise.

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More significant in a historical context is the rise in the EU breeding herd. The number of sows increased by nearly 1% compared with June 2013. Although the list of countries conducting a June survey has changed over time, this appears to be the first rise since 2005. Certainly, the December figures for the whole EU have declined every year since 2006. The four largest breeding herds, Spain, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, all recorded increases in the latest year. Growth was most obvious in Spain, where there were 5% more sows than a year ago, confirming its position as the EU’s largest pig breeder. Relatively low input costs and high pig prices mean that Spanish producers have been in a better financial position than those elsewhere, encouraging them to expand.