According to the results of a National Pig Association survey, pigmeat production in the European Union could fall by nearly 3 million metric tons over the next three years.

Low prices, high feed costs, the European stalls ban (which will come into full force in 2012), currency volatility and sustainability worries are all projected to be factors in the estimates. In 2011, production may fall by as much as 4% (880,000 metric tons). Numbers for 2012 may fall by 5% (1,060,000 metric tons) and 2013 numbers may decrease by a further 5% (1,007,000 metric tons).

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The survey focused on farmers and representatives from several countries, including Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Poland, which together produce two-thirds of EU pigmeat. “In making our forecast, we have been at pains to study relevant datasets and to survey producers and producer representatives in the main pig-producing countries of the European Union,” said NPA General Manager Barney Kay. “We have also considered the views of European Commission officials and revisited our own data on the effects of higher feed costs and converting from stalls to loose-housing."

Kay said that the estimates may be affected as farmers make decisions regarding their businesses, particularly in relation to the 2012 stall ban. "Many continental producers do not know themselves yet whether they will convert to loose-housing by January 2013, or cease production by that date, or continue to use stalls and hope to avoid detection," said Kay. "Their decision will be influenced by several factors, including the size of next year’s wheat harvest, exchange rates, the economic outlook for the eurozone and the attitude of banks to lending money.”