Bigger falls in pork production than originally forecast are possible, according to the latest British Pig Executive report looking at the introduction of the partial sow stall ban across Europe on January 1, 2013.

The revision is largely the result of rising feed costs and could lead to a sharp increase in prices for pork and pork products. The report also shows that 18 EU countries say they will be ready for the new sow stall ban legislation, and extrapolates three possible scenarios as a result of the changes:

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  • A fall in pork production of around five percent from 2011 levels by 2014, leading to price increases but with fairly rapid recovery as productivity improves.
  • A sharper fall in production as higher feed prices add to the impact of the stall ban, leading to shortages of pork and substantial price increases, resulting in pressure for political intervention.
  • Realignment of production so that breeding is concentrated in North West Europe and finishing in Eastern and Southern Europe, reducing overall production costs.

“It is difficult to say which scenario is most likely, because of the impact of huge feed price rises," said report author Stephen Howarth. "Recent pig price rises in Europe have, to some extent, mitigated the feed price rise, which means scenario one remains the most likely. However, if the high level of EU pig prices isn’t sustained, then scenario two could easily become reality.”

According to BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston, the sow stall ban cannot be taken in isolation. "It is happening at a time when pig producers are under considerable financial pressure due to high feed costs," he said. “Most producers have been left in a loss-making position. The situation is not likely to improve markedly in the immediate future, unless recent pig price rises are sustained, since feed prices are expected to remain high. We are already seeing producers leave the industry, both in the UK and across Europe. This will lead to a fall in production and a consequent rise in prices."