EU slaughterings developments defy expectations

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Surprisingly, pig slaughterings within the EU were marginally up for 2016 as a whole, given the decline in the breeding herd reported in both December 2015 and June 2016.

According to the latest figures from Eurostat, at 257 million head, they increased by almost 1% on the previous year. Although, this still represents a considerable slow down on the growth rate of almost 3% in 2015. Continuing improvements to sow productivity will have mitigated the impact of the smaller sow herd. At over 23 million tonnes in 2016, production was up ahead of the increase in slaughterings, as carcase weights averaged 0.5 kg higher.

A 4% slaughter growth on the year during December, indicating a generous response to the key Christmas demand period, contributed to the overall small annual rise. As for the year as a whole, production during the final month of the year grew ahead of throughput, increasing by 6% on the year.

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On an individual country basis, annual production growth was a feature of the Southern European countries Italy and Spain. Spanish production in particular was 5% higher year-on-year, with increasing vertical integration continuing to drive profitability and expansion. The production growth in Poland of 3% was also above the EU average. Meanwhile production in the primary producer, Germany, was stable on 2015. Denmark reported a 2% decline, due to increasing numbers of young pigs being exported for finishing.

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Bethan Wilkins, Analyst

bethan.wilkins@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8757