Pig markets pick up across the EU

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EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan has welcomed the almost 10% increase in pig prices, recorded across the EU over the past number of weeks.

But he still believes that market volatility remains one of the largest challenges facing European agriculture as a whole.

Speaking recently in Portugal he said that as the Common Agricultural Policy takes on a greater market orientation new tools will be required to help mitigate risk.

“Firstly, we need to consider greater use of mutual funds. Secondly, we also need to look at how we organise the market. We need to further encourage producers to come together to form producer organisations in order to negotiate a fair price for their product.

“Thirdly, we need to ensure that processors and retailers are not engaging in unfair trading practices at the expense of farmers. I’m glad to see that 20 member states have now brought in rules at national level to help strengthen the position of farmers in the food chain.”

Hogan also pointed to the need for the EU to become more offensive and outward looking, where farming and food are concerned.

“For this reason, I have mounted a diplomatic offensive in 2016 to find new markets for our EU producers. I have already led business delegations, including Portuguese wine and pigmeat producers, to Colombia and Mexico, China and Japan, and I will lead further delegations to the burgeoning markets of Vietnam and Indonesia later this year. Our EU agrifood exports are now more than €120bn per annum, with a 33% annual increase in exports to China alone.”

Hogan’s comments coincided with the publication of the EU’s latest agri-food trade figures, which confirm a record export surplus. And this is particularly the case, where pork is concerned.

Pigmeat now accounts for around 5% of the EU’s total agri-food value. Significantly, it is also one of the products affected by the Russian sanitary ban applied in February 2014 and the embargo in August 2014. Prior to the ban, in 2013, Russia was the main destination of EU pork and bacon exports, taking one quarter of total EU pigmeat exported to third countries. By 2015, pigmeat exports to Russia had disappeared completely.

But EU global exports of pork have increased substantially particularly in 2016. Exports of fresh, chilled and frozen pigmeat increased by 68% in April 2016 year on year. Over the past two years, EU pigmeat formerly exported to Russia has been reoriented mainly towards China, Philippines and Hong Kong, which were already growing destinations before 2014.