24 November 1995

Euro-pig herd still declining

FURTHER long-term contraction of the European pig herd is forecast, following publication of the August pig census for the EU of 15.

While the total pig herd recorded a fall of just 1% to 118.6m (and there was even an upturn in numbers in Denmark, France and Holland), the total breeding herd dropped by 2.4% to 12.3m.

Denmark, the UK and Holland all saw their breeding herds decline. "With supplies continuing to tighten over the next year, it is reasonable to assume that prices for pigmeat will remain relatively firm," says the Meat and Livestock Commission.

The one possible blight is the effective closure of the highly-prized Japanese market, following the sharp increase in their import levies earlier this month.

But last week Brussels market managers agreed a new private storage aid scheme, due to open on Monday (Nov 27), to absorb some of the 150,000t/year displaced. This is a "welcome safety net", say to MLC economists.

But, given the way the market is currently shaping up, it is unlikely to have much of an influence on prices.