EU production falls in February
Provisional figures from the EU Commission and Defra suggest that EU pig meat production decreased in February by 5% year-on-year, to 1.85 million tonnes.
However, due to 2016 being a leap year, there was one less working day in the month this year. This means that, when production is compared on a like for like basis, the decline reduces to less than 1%. Similarly, clean pig slaughterings were back 6% in February compared to a year earlier, at 20.1 million head, but this is only a 1% decline on a like-for-like basis. Carcase weights though were up nearly 600g on February 2016.
These trends are in line with EU Commission forecasts published earlier this year, which anticipated a small decline in pig slaughter during Q1. This followed from December census results indicating that major producing states had rationalised their breeding herds. However, the December figures also showed that in-pig gilt numbers in the EU were up 2% on December 2015. Also in Denmark breeding pig numbers on 1 April were 1% higher than a year earlier with producers likely encouraged by significantly improved pig prices compared to early 2016. As such, while sharply rising prices suggest EU supplies have certainly been tight in more recent weeks, the situation may ease moving forward.
At member state level, most key producing states reported a decline in output compared with a year earlier. Although, given the shorter working month this year these falls are likely to be a little overstated. Poland reported a 7% drop in production volumes, which is perhaps surprising given they were one of the few states with an increasing pig herd according to the December census. Year-on-year declines were also reported by Germany (-6%), Denmark (-5%), Spain (-4%) and the Netherlands (-2%). Conversely, France actually reported a 2% rise in production compared to a year earlier.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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