According to "Winter 2015 Short-Term Agricultural Outlook report" in 2014, EU pig meat production started recovering from the low 2013 level supported by lower feed costs and increased productivity. Production developments in the EU-15 have been different from country to country; increases took place in Spain (3.7%), Portugal (4.1%), the United Kingdom (3.5%) and the Netherlands (5.3%), declines in Germany (-0.8%) and Italy (-2%) while production in France and Denmark remained stable. Despite the appearance of African Swine Fever (ASF) at the beginning of 2014, the production increase in Poland has been particularly strong (almost 9%) and, together with an increase by more than 10% in Hungary and Romania, it brought EU-N13 total net production to around 3.5 million tonnes (or +5.4% on a yearly basis).
After several years of contraction in the number of pigs, preliminary December 2014 livestock survey data indicated an increase by 1.2%; breeding sows increased by 0.4% thanks to Spain (4.7%) and the Netherlands (1%), while in Poland it remained stable.
A stronger increase is shown in piglet numbers (2.4%) out of which Spanish pig population rose by 12%, Denmark 3%, the Netherlands 4% and Portugal 7%. Despite the current low prices, a higher pig herd and increased productivity following the implementation of welfare rules in the sow sector should create conditions for a continuous recovery in production over the projection period at around 23 million tonnes.
In the absence of the Russian outlet since February 2014 EU pig meat exports (including lard but without offal) dropped by around 13% in 2014, and this despite re-orientation to alternative markets. Due to the restrictions imposed on EU meat, in 2014 Russia accounted for a mere 3% of EU pig meat exports compared to 33% a year earlier. Strong demand from the Asian markets, particularly from Japan (totalling 345 000 tonnes), South Korea (199 000 tonnes), Hong-Kong (125 000 tonnes) and Philippines (122 000 tonnes) did not fully compensate for the loss of the Russian market. However, prospects of higher pig meat supplies and strong demand from Asia could support a recovery so that exports could reach the 2012 level by 2016 (2.1 million tonnes).
Despite a sustained recovery in consumption, the strong drop in EU exports and increased supply on the domestic market drove pig meat prices down below their 2007-11 average, at 133 EUR/100 kg the last week of 2014. On 24th of February 2015, the European Commission announced the opening of a private storage aid scheme for pig meat to stimulate pig prices recovering faster and to stabilise producer margins.
Monday March 9, 2015/ DG Agriculture/ European Union.