Small decline in EU pig kill in 2017

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The latest figures from Eurostat confirm that pig supplies were lower overall in the EU last year.

Cumulatively in 2017, throughputs reached almost 255 million head, 1% lower than in the previous year. Despite some increase in carcase weights, pig meat production also declined by 1%, to 23.3 million tonnes.

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Nonetheless, throughputs in the final quarter were actually comparable to 2016, at 66 million head. Production levels were boosted marginally on the year by rising carcase weights. Higher throughputs in October and November were countered by a 4% drop in slaughterings in December, compared to year earlier levels.

On an individual country basis, as the largest pig producer in the EU, a 3% decline in German slaughterings was key to driving the overall fall across the year. Danish throughputs were also back a noticeable 4%, as were slaughterings in Italy. In contrast, Spain and Poland both bucked the trend and recorded throughputs rising 1% year-on-year. These two countries have seen particular investment in the pig industry in recent years, and with growth in their sow herds recorded during the December census, further expansion looks likely this year.

Most other key producers also look set to increase production in 2018, following breeding herd growth. However, Germany is a notable exception, with the number of sows actually slightly lower than year earlier levels at the end of last year. The threat of ASF, and increasing regulations, is likely limiting confidence in the sector and deterring expansion. As the German sow herd is the second largest in the EU, the lack of expansion from this country could limit any overall increase in European slaughterings in 2018.

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Bethan Wilkins, Analyst

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