32c/kg drop in Pig Price
The pig sector has suffered the greatest farm gate loss since the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. The Irish pig price has dropped from €1.96/kg at the beginning of February to an average of €1.64/kg on the week beginning Monday 29th June. This 32c/kg drop in price translates to a devaluation of a factory pig by €27, and for the average Irish pig farm with 750 sows, that means a reduced income of over €10,000 per week. With current production costs, which have increased due to Covid-19 restrictions and pig feed price increases of €10 per tonne in the past two months, pig farmers once again find themselves back at near break-even prices. At current prices of just over €1.60/kg, costs are covered, but the investment that is constantly required in order to keep up with ever emerging technology and standards in the worldwide pig sector, will not happen on Irish pig farms.
Worldwide Pigmeat Market
Pig producing countries across the EU continue to be in turmoil since the onset of Covid restrictions. Factory closures continue to cause a worry to the sector and those employees who work in the industry, across Europe. Pig production throughput continues to be heavily disrupted in many countries. Many German, Danish and French pig processing plants continue to experience great difficulties in coping with physical distancing requirements and outbreaks of Covid–19 among meat factory workers continue to be an all too common report. This delay in processing capacity, combined with dismal foodservice demand, which is an important outlet for pork across Europe, is hampering pig prices improving and the EU average pig price remains at €1.60/kg.
The important Chinese market has returned to the marketplace and product is back on the move again, which is a positive development. The price has tumbled from late 2019 levels, but the overall deficit in pigmeat in China will underpin sustained demand at profitable price levels in the second half of 2020 and for years to come.
Chinese Market Approval
It was disappointing news for the industry that the Rosderra processing plant in Roscrea was temporarily removed from the list of approved export pigmeat plants, in the last week of June. While this action was a result of the much-publicised media coverage of Covid-19 cases among meat plant workers, there was no concerns over the safety of pigmeat products from the Roscrea plant or any meat plant in Ireland. DAFM, IFA and Rosderra are working to reinstate the market access for this important pig processing plant as soon as possible. The Chinese export market is vital for the viability of the Irish pig farming sector. The huge loss of pigmeat production in China due to ASF, estimated at up to 50 million tonnes loss in 2020, will underpin worldwide demand for pigmeat. It is also an important destination of lower value pigmeat cuts from the Irish processing sector, cuts that would not sell to many consumers domestically, and this helps to increases the overall value of the pig in Ireland.
The IFA DNA traceback scheme continues to monitor compliance levels of Irish pork, bacon and processed pigmeat on both retail shelves and foodservice providers. Pallace Foods, one of the largest foodservice providers in Ireland, have increased compliance, as proven by the DNA testing. The latest round of testing in June showing 100% of products sourced through Pallace Foods was of Irish origin. This is a vast improvement in results of previous testing and Pallace Foods and other foodservice providers such as AppleGreen service stations, who have also dramatically improved their usage of Irish pigmeat products, will be publicly commended by the IFA for supporting Irish pig farmers.
IFA Pig Committee Priorities
Pig Chairman, Tom Hogan said that stability is required in the pigmeat sector and all stakeholders must work together to emerge from this trying time as a prosperous, strong sector. Hard fought market access must be protected, the China market is vital to this sector and the reinstatement of all Irish export plants to full access is a priority.
Pig Welfare Directive
The IFA Pig Committee have always been engaged with the DAFM on welfare issues in the sector and will continue to engage in a proactive fashion, under the direction of the new Minister for Agriculture, Barry Cowen. The Pigs Chairman has written to the Minister seeking a meeting to discuss pig welfare, research and development in the sector, TAMs funding among other challenging issues that face Irish pig farmers.
Tom Hogan along with the Poultry Chairman, Andy Boylan has written to the newly appointed Minister for Agriculture, Barry Cowen requesting a meeting to discuss and progress the TAMs- PPIS (Pig & Poultry investment scheme) and other sector pressing issues. The previously announced increase in the investment limit from €80,000 up to €200,000 for the PPIS, has to date never been implemented. It is a priority for both these IFA Committees that this in implemented as soon as possible.