Pig Market Report
Irish Pig Price Stabilises but EU Markets in Turmoil
After the initial price reduction of 32c/kg during April-June the Irish pig price has remained relatively stable at €1.60-€1.62/kg over the past number of weeks. The main development in the pig world market has been the devastating announcement of ASF positive cases in wild boar in Germany. Initially only one case was reported but increased testing of wild boar in the rural region of Brandenburg state has seen the number of positive cases rise to over 40. While ASF has been in circulation in the wild boar population in neighbouring Poland for the past four years, and this is the first incident of ASF positive in Germany, which is the EU’s second largest producer and exporter of pork, behind Spain. The immediate response of the German pig market was to drop the price by 20c/kg, down to a low price of €1.27/kg and this is where the price remains for the German pig farmers, at least 20c/kg below the cost of production. The response of many importer nations was immediate and devastating with China, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam among others, all announcing that all pork and pig products from the entire country of Germany were no longer approved. This move has caused a huge disturbance in the EU and worldwide pigmeat markets. China remains severely deficit in pigmeat as Germany accounted for up to 15% of total Chinese pork imports over the past year, the loss of this channel has resulted in South American exporter countries, Brazil and Argentina, experiencing an increase in demand from China and other Asian buyers.
What does all this mean for Irish pig prices?
Ireland is an island on the edge of Europe. We have a number of advantages in the battle to keep ASF free. Restricted travel and movement due to Covid-19, no significant wild boar population, and a very structured and highly bio secure pig farming sector will all help to keep Ireland free from ASF. The Department of Agriculture and the National Disease Control Centre (NDCC) have played an important role in keeping the message regarding the threat of ASF in the minds of travellers into the country and among the pig keepers.
On the positive side, the worldwide outlook for pigmeat remains very positive, with the fundamentals of the world market remaining unchanged since pre-Covid times. The African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks in Asia, particularly China have removed up to 25% of the worlds pig production herd. This is a huge deficit in pigmeat and will not be filled quickly and the underlying demand from countries such as China will underpin any good international trade for pigmeat over the next 3-5 years.
Roscrea back into China
The news that the largest pig processor in Ireland, Rosderra has regained approval for its Roscrea plant to export to China is great news for the entire industry and it should result in increased stability and improved pig prices in the run up to the year end.
EU Green Deal, “Farm to Fork”
Pig farmers have faced plenty of challenges over the recent number of years, including reduction in antibiotics, ban on zinc oxide, consumer and retailer demands, African Swine Fever, and higher animal welfare interpretations. As if there weren’t enough challenges already, soon pig producers in Europe also face the EU’s ‘Green Deal’.
A summary of the targets of this action for 2030 are:
- To reduce the use of chemical and more hazardous pesticides by 50%;
- To reduce nutrient losses by 50% and fertiliser use by 20%;
- To reduce antimicrobial sales for farm animals by 50%;
- To increase farmland dedicated to organic farming to 25%.
There are many challenges in this new food strategy but with challenges come opportunities. IFA Pigs Committee are working alongside both Teagasc Pig Department and DAFM to explore possible opportunities for the Irish pig sector to get some competitive advantages in marketing of “Irish Pigmeat” and opportunities to incorporate the pig production system into the circular economy in a recognised and sustainable manner.