EU production rises in March
Provisional figures from the EU Commission indicate that EU pig meat production increased in March by 2% year-on-year, to 2.07 million tonnes and was also up on February.
However, due to March 2016 including Easter, there were two more working days in the month this year. This means that, when production is compared on a like for like basis, there was a decline of 7% although this figure should be treated with caution as some abattoirs would have increased their daily kill to compensate for fewer working days. Pig supplies in the EU were reported to have been tight in March. Pig slaughterings were only marginally higher, at 22.4 million head, although well down if taking account of the fewer working days last year. Carcase weights in March this year were up by as much as 1.8 kg suggesting that pigs have been putting on more weight to offset the tight pig supply helped by the firm market, unlike last year.
It will be interesting to see whether the pig supply tightens further in April with Easter this year also likely impacting on output. Certainly there were shortages of weaners reported at the end of last year and early this year and the December EU pig census indicated that piglet numbers were down over 1% on December 2015. In the first quarter of this year EU pig slaughterings were lower by almost 1.5% on a year earlier.
At member state level, there were contrasting developments in pig meat production for the major countries. No doubt partly reflecting the fact that as Easter is in April this year, production was up by 4% in Germany the largest producer in the EU. Yet in April, national statistics indicate a 10% reduction in slaughterings compared to April 2016. Pig meat production was also up by 5% in Spain in March. The same rise took place in Poland although this should be seen in the context of a 7% decline in February. In contrast output was down 5% in the UK and Denmark compared with a year earlier and 3% in the Netherlands; in these countries shortages of pigs were being reported.
Leo Colby, Consultant