Performance levels improved on Irish pig farms in 2014, according to Bord Bia specialist Peter Duggan.

The average number of pigs reared per sow for the year in question was 24.5 while the equivalent figure for 2013 was 24.1, he said. Duggan also confirmed to the 2015 Bord Bia Meat Market Prospects seminar that Irish pigment production increased by 3% year on year in 2014.

“This trend is likely to be sustained on the back of increasing sow numbers and improved  on-farm efficiency levels, although the possible spread of the current Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus (PEDv) outbreak to Ireland must also be factored in to these projections.

“Irish pig prices peaked at €1.75/kg in July of last year but declined on a steady basis through to the end of December. The average producer price paid in 2014 of  €1.60/kg and represented a year- on-year increase of 4%.”

The Bord Bia representative also confirmed that Irish pigmeat exports in 2014 totalled 180,000t, valued at €570m. This latter figure represents a 3% year-on-year increase.

“China is now a key outlet for Irish pork exports,” the Bord Bia specialist said.

“Last year, Irish sales of pigmeat to that market amounted to almost 35,000t, representing a 20% increase on 2013 levels. Pigmeat exports to Japan from Ireland increased by 210% in 2014, admittedly from a relatively low base level.

“The year ahead will see Irish pork output edge up again with EU sow numbers likely to increase during the period up to the end of June. International trade in pork products during 2015 will be dominated by the Asian market.”

Peter Duggan also confirmed that the reduction in EU pig prices during the second half of 2014 had an impact on EU poultrymeat consumption trends.

“Ireland, however, bucked this trend with sales levels increasing by 5%, compared with 2013. This may well reflect the upturn in the economy,” he said.