Difficulties for the EU pork sector go back to February of 2014 when Russia put in place a ban on imports of European pig meat (and other products) following sanctions imposed as a result of the political situation in Ukraine. The new Private Storage Aid (PSA) measures, which involve EU funding to help cover the costs of storing certain pig meat products for periods of between 3 and 5 months, took effect on January 4.

The scheme is part of a EUR500 million (US$542 million) support package for farmers announced by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, in September 2015. Because of the large volumes of lard previously exported to Russia, this product has been included in the PSA.

Aid for private storage is a market measure within the framework of a Regulation that compensates part of the storage cost for a period of time. Member States will notify twice weekly the quantities submitted into storage.

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“I am aware that the pig meat sector is facing difficulties and prices have been in decline since September, and so I hope this measure will help the market,” commented Hogan.

The latest update from the European Commission on the EU pig meat market highlights the challenges in the sector. Production in 2015 is forecast at 256.8 million head or more than 3 percent above the previous year. While exports for the first 10 months of last year were 5.2 percent higher than the same period of 2014, domestic consumption has been flat and as a result, prices in the last week of 2015 were down around 6 to 8 percent from the levels one year before.