Lower feed prices and a slightly higher breeding sow herd after seven years of decline set the scene for a further increase in 2015 production after the recovery a year earlier. Despite the depressed meat prices at the beginning of the year (for example, a t 130 EUR/100 kg c.w., prices were in January 2015 18% below the 2010 - 2014 average), slaughterings went exceptionally up by 5.6% in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period of last year. All main producing Member States contributed to this increase. The most remarkable growths were recorded in Spain (+11.7%) driven by the strong increase in total pig numbers (in particular, for bre eding sows: +5%) and in Poland (+6.6%) where by contrast the number of breeding sows remained unchanged. Given the decline in carcass weight recorded in Poland in the first quarter (- 2.4%), this production growth might come from an increase in the number of piglets per sow while piglet imports remain strong . Higher production was recorded also in the other major pig meat producers : Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. In spite of the cheaper feed, some pig producers might be confronted with financial difficulties as the prices for meat do not always cover their production costs, therefore a slowdown in net production increase is expected for the remaining part of 2015 (+1.8% in April - December 2015 against the same period in 2014). This might limit the overall 2015 annual increase in production to around 3% year - on - year and in 2016 to 0.9%.
Increased production, lower meat prices, a weaker euro and a strong demand from Asia constitute several advantages the EU pig meat exporting companies have benefited and that prompted EU pig meat exports at higher level than in 2014. During the first four months of 2015, EU pig meat exports grew by around 4% because of increased shipments towards Philippines, China, the US and Singapore. In South Korea, lower production as result of Foot and Mouth Disease and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) outbreaks increased import demand by more than 30% (January - May 2015 against the same period of last year) with better priced EU meat overtaking volumes coming from the US. Smaller volumes exported to Japan suggest that the country has started recovering from the 20 14 PEDv episode. Worth noting that the 12% increase in total EU exports (excluding Russia) more than compensated for the fall of exports to Russia. All in all, EU pig meat exports could keep on increasing driven by strong global demand, increased competitiveness on the world market due to a depreciated euro again st the US dollar and an expected lower supply in Brazil, one of the EU competitors in Asia, to close the 2015 year with almost 140 000 tonnes more exports than in 2014. For 2016, EU exports could continue their increase given the prospects of a higher dome stic production, dynamic global demand and relatively stable internal consumption.
Friday July 10, 2015/ DG Agriculture/ European Union.