Pigmeat production will fall by as much as 10% in the wake of a European sow stall ban, suggest the latest industry estimates.

Fewer than half EU Member States are expected to be fully compliant with an EU Directive banning sow stalls except for the first four weeks of gestation.

The UK is already fully compliant with the ban, which is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2013.

But significant numbers of farmers in other EU countries are expected to quit because they won’t be able to comply with the legislation.

Working together with colleagues across the EU, a BPEX report features scenarios on how the market might be affected by the change.

EU pig production could to fall by 5-10%, forecasts the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

As a result, processors and retailers may well face substantial price increases.

The European Commission has made it clear that it expects the new rules to be rigorously enforced.

It has pledged to initiate infraction proceedings against member states that are not fully compliant.

A similar situation followed EU legislation banning eggs from hens kept in certain types of battery cages.

AHDB senior analyst Stephen Howarth said: “The experience of the egg sector shows that it is very likely that the regulations will have a major impact.

“The latest information confirms that there are many producers who still won’t have complied with the rules by the end of the year, while others will have stopped breeding altogether.

“Historically, even small changes in pig production have led to significant shifts in price.

With production likely to fall by five per cent or more, prices could be at least 10% higher, possibly more.”

BPEX chairman Stewart Houston called on retailers and processors to ensure sensible contract arrangements that guaranteed the supply of pig meat.

It was important for everyone in the supply chain to work towards a sustainable, profitable sector, he said.

“Getting this right will demonstrate the integrity of the EU commission and Member States in enforcing legislation that they have agreed,” said Mr Houston.

“It will demonstrate the integrity of the whole supply chain that it will protect pig welfare and above all it will benefit consumers through the continued supply of high welfare, high quality pork and pork products.”

Read the report on the BPEX website.