In November 2008, the Polish pig herd fell to its lowest level since 1970, according to data from the Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) reported in the European Market Survey.

There were reportedly 14.2 million pigs in Poland, 8% fewer than in July 2008 and 19% fewer than in November 2007, down approximately 4.6 million pigs since last peak in the pig cycle in July 2006.

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The 6% fall in sow numbers between July and November 2008 indicates that the pig herd will continue to contract until at least July 2009, according to the European Market Survey. Pigs weighing over 50 kg intended for slaughter will contract in March and then seasonally increase in July.

Pig meat production in Poland in 2009 could be as much as 10% down on last year. According to data, output in 2008 had already fallen 10% compared with 2007. Only in November 2009 is some recovery in the underlying trend expected.

However, the situation for pig producers is more favorable, says the European Market Survey. Although some increase in feed prices is reportedly expected, farm-gate prices for slaughter pigs are forecast to reach record high levels in 2009. Pig prices could be around 30% higher than the five-year average.