No Santa rally for EU’s pig prices – or 2013 shortage

In the run up to Christmas all livestock producers hope to get something extra from the market. In Europe there seems no hope of any such bonus this year. Pig prices have been weakening for the last month and look set to enter the holiday season on a falling trend. The price data for November and December offer no early Christmas presents for farmers: no Santa rally is evident anywhere – not even in Lapland.

There is more detail on these prices in the latest issue of Whole Hog Brief and it seems that all of the major pig producing countries in the EU face the same market conditions.  These are not particularly good prices to end the year on and, with confusion about restructuring rife because of new welfare rules, it’s right to ask the question – will there be a major cutback in the EU breeding herd and a consequent shortage of pork in Europe in 2013?

We have not settled down for Christmas lunch yet, nor has there been time to reflect on all the statistics and data over a choice red wine but I am prepared to do what any sensible turkey won’t at this time of year – I will stick my neck out.

I just do not see enough panic in the streets (farms) in Europe to believe that the EU herd will be that much smaller in six months’ time. There will be less sows around and average herd sizes will be larger, especially in some member states, but our old friend productivity and his good mate, export levels to third countries, will ensure that the EU’s domestic market will not be too far out of balance in the EU in 2013: unless, of course, we have a major disease outbreak that disrupts production and/or trade. More on this in Whole Hog in the months ahead.It’s a fast moving scene in the global meat markets and the only way to keep a check on them is to look at the data regularly and with an eye for detail.

Meanwhile, where is that bottle opener…..?

Dr John Strak, Editor Whole Hog