14 January 2000
Euro pig production to stay high

CONTINENTAL pig production is going to take a long time to fall to the level at which it will have a major impact on prices, according to MLC economists.

The MLC bases its forecast on an analysis of the latest German pig census.

It expects there to be a breeding stock decline of only 2% in German pig slaughterings this year – not enough to make a significant impact on Continental supply.

The survey suggests that that Germanys net production of pigmeat this year could be “at the same high level as in 1999, at around 4.08 million tonnes”.

The pessimistic news coincides with an equally gloomy outlook that emerges from the publication of results from the official November pig census in England.

This indicates a less dramatic rundown of breeding stock numbers than could be implied from protests by producers about crisis-level prices, claims The Herald

But MLC economists say that the 5% reduction in the English breeding sow herd shown by the census could understate the true fall in numbers.

However, news of a 4% downturn in US pig production has offered some hope to the industry.

The EU and USA compete strongly in Russia and Asia and, in theory, the decrease in the US herd could benefit British farmers.

It could enable EU producers, notably the Dutch and Danish, to sell to third-country markets stock currently depressing prices in Europe.

With herds contracting in both the EU and USA, some analysts believe there could be tighter international supply and higher prices.

However, there are concerns that restructuring of the US pig industry into large highly efficient breeding and fattening operations could leave Americans with more exportable pork than figures would imply.

This scenario could mean continued fierce competition in third countries and a continuing surplus of stock in Europe.