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Analysis Pigs & Pork

Pork production in Europe slightly increases

April 30, 2024 - Matthijs Bremer

The pork market is in calm waters, as concluded by Rabobank in its quarterly report. Although European exports are under pressure, production remains stable. However, production slightly increased in January.

Remarkably, pork production in January 2024 increased by 4% in the European Union and the United Kingdom. According to Rabobank, the growth is mainly due to recovery after the 2023 holidays. Additionally, production in January 2023 was exceptionally low.

Because the sow herd stabilized in 2023, the bank expects pork production to remain at a similar level compared to 2023. The bank notes that the sow herd in Spain and Poland may still increase, although factors like disease pressure from PRRS and African Swine Fever (ASF) make it uncertain.

Export under pressure
Due to relatively high European prices, exports continue to face challenges. In January 2024, exports were 10% lower than in the same month of 2023. A decrease in exports to major Asian markets remains the main cause. Export to China reached 109,000 tons, similar to the second half of 2023. Expectations are for export to China to remain stable in the second quarter as the market seeks a new balance due to reducing its pig supply. Export to Japan also decreased by 13%, or 4,000 tons.

However, the European market is finding new importers of by-products. As a result, export volumes to Vietnam more than tripled in January 2024 to 13,000 tons, compared to 4,000 tons in the same month of 2023. Additionally, exports to South Korea increased by 17%, or 4,000 tons in that month. Export to the Philippines increased by the same volume, representing a 21% rise. There was a notable 32% increase in exports to the United States, a rise of 2,000 tons.

Cheaper piglets
Regarding exports, Rabobank notes that exports to the Dutch core markets are leveling off. This is particularly true for exports to Germany and Poland. The Polish market even shows a slight decrease. Due to the Netherlands' strong dependence on exports, the average pig price in 2024 is under pressure. In week 13, the pig price in the Netherlands was 14% lower than the Dutch average, and the European average in 2024 was 7% lower than in the same period of 2023, as observed by Rabobank.

Matthijs Bremer

Matthijs Bremer is a market specialist in pork, beef, and poultry meat at DCA Market Intelligence. He also monitors the protein transition, keeping an eye on developments in cultured meat and meat substitutes.
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