According to USDA, European Union pig slaughter is forecast to decline to about 2.5 million head this year, which is still second to the record reached last year. Two factors are important for what will eventually happen: the Chinese import demand for pork and the outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF).
During 2018, while production rose with 640,000 mt CW, exports only rose by 140,000 mt CW, which points to commercial stock building. Based on historic FAS figures, the EU consumption is estimated at a maximum of 21.0 million mt CW. As a result, about 300,000 MT CW is anticipated to be stored for postponed sales in either the domestic or export market.
In 2019, the number of hogs slaughtered wil fall, but due to heavier weights, pork production is forecast to reach a volume only slightly below the record level achieved last year. The newly produced volume combined with the pork in storage is forecast to support exports close to the record reached in 2016. The Member States boosting production and exports in 2019 are expected to be Spain and Portugal. Major product ion cuts are forecast in Germany and Poland.
While the EU pork sector has attempted to diversify its exports, China is still regarded as the main growth market. EU exports to China are forecast to grow in response to ASF outbreaks taking place in China and an increasing Chinese demand for meat. In addition, Chinese imports tariffs on pork from the United States are seen as a competitive advantage. Although data show that it is mainly Brazil benefitting from reduced competition from the United States in China, even though the EU is still by far the largest pork supplier. Spain, currently the EU‘s largest pork exporter, will also focus on Mexico and South America. In July 2018, Mexico implemented a duty - free pork quota of 35 0,000 mt PW in response to the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. As a result, Spanish pork exports to Mexico are expected to continue to grow. A volume of about 10,000 mt CW of Spanish pork, valued at $33 million, was exported to Mexico in 2018, mainly hi gh value salted, dried, smoked, and frozen pork. Currently, Mexico is Spain’s main export destination outside the EU for Serrano ham.
Friday February 22, 2019/ GAIN-USDA/ United States.