EU pig meat demand still struggling
Consumer demand for pig meat in key EU markets continues to struggle in 2017 and it is more export demand that is supporting the EU market.
Fresh pork has been under the greatest pressure as processed products have held up better. What is happening to domestic demand in supporting the EU pig meat market in the coming months could be crucial as EU export markets are becoming more competitive.
It is the key German pig meat market that is the most worrying and consumer panel data for the first four months of 2017 indicates that household fresh purchases have declined yet again, by as much as 7% on a year earlier. The pork price rise, of 4%, was considerably higher than for other meats. In France and Italy household purchases of fresh pork also continue to decline. In contrast in Spain pork is now performing better than in other main consuming countries. This has been helped by the recovery in the economy.
UK household purchases of fresh pork so far in 2017 have also been down. However, to 23 April they only fell by 1.5% which represents a considerable improvement on the situation last year.
As pig supply in the EU starts to build up again in response to expanding sow numbers a good level of internal demand becomes more critical if pig production is to remain profitable and the pig meat market not to fall back. The increasing retail pig meat prices will inevitably meet consumer resistance at some stage. Falling pig prices would inevitably have consequences not only for the EU as a whole but also the United Kingdom.
Leo Colby, Consultant