11 February 2000

Fall in numbers might lead to a firming of prices

A PREDICTED 2% fall in pig numbers this year should lead to firming of Danish pig prices.

But latest census figures show that herd size may not be contracting as quickly as anticipated.

Speaking at a Danish Bacon and Meat Council press briefing, Danske Slagteriers Karsten Flemin explained his countrys pig economic situation.

"Low prices began to afflict the industry in 1998 when prices fell from 75p/kg to 50p/kg by the year end. Last year they peaked at 66p/kg and are 63p/kg today.

"Prices are forecast to remain at 63p/kg for the first quarter of this year rising to 72p/kg by the year end. An average of 72p/kg is needed to break even."

But the predicted rise in price depended on a 2% fall in numbers, said Mr Karsten. He admitted the latest pig census information indicated numbers had remained almost constant at 22.7m head.

Although there was no industry money to fuel an expansion at the moment, he predicted that pig numbers could rise to a maximum of 30m over the next 10-20 years.

New legislation limiting numbers of pigs owned by one person would give greater industry accessibility to new entrants, and a tightening of environmental laws would cap pig numbers at this level, he said.

"Changes in legislation will restrict numbers to 250 units a site, with each owner being allowed to own three sites." (See table.)

"Slurry rules will also be tightened, from 1.7 animal units/ha to 1.4 in 2002. This has caused land prices to double in some areas, the average being about £7500/ha." &#42

Animal unit limits

1 animal unit = 30 finisher pigs (30kg-100kg).

3 sows and piglets up to 30kg.

1 sow and piglets through finishing.

Prices should rise by the year-end, says Karsten Flemin.