Pigmeat production down 2% due to impact of PRRS

Pigmeat production was down two per cent last year. However, the value of Irish pigmeat exports was some three per cent higher in 2013 at €525m with the increase  largely driven by price increases.

Pig supplies last year in Ireland are estimated to half fallen by just over two per cent to 2.84 million head. According to Bord Bia’s Performance and Prospects report published yesterday the fall is due to the impact of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) on some herds.

However the Central Statistics Office (CSO) June pig survey showed a recovery of one per cent in the breeding herd, which may give some indication of increased supplies for 2014.

When this fall is taken into context with a drop of five per cent in live exports to Northern Ireland at around 575,000 head, it leaves total pig output down by almost three per cent in 2013 and production down two per cent to stand at 235,000 tonnes.

Countering the fall in production export prices were seen to rise by almost six per cent in 2013 and is the main reason why the value of Irish pigmeat exports was some three per cent higher in 2013.

While Irish production fell last year data from the CSO shows a rise of three per cent in pigmeat imports for the first nine months of 2013. A continuation of this trend would leave imports at 84,000 tonnes for the year.

Irish pigmeat performance in the UK market was unchanged throughout 2013. With shipments largely maintained at 77,000 tonnes. Higher average prices led to the value of trade rising by six per cent to reach €320m.

While the UK market was static worryingly exports to the Continent fell by more than 10 per cent to around 35,000 tonnes and were worth an estimated €80m. Stronger trade to Germany and France were more than offset by lower to shipments to most other markets.

More positive news came from outside of Europe where for the year exports of Irish pigmeat grew by seven per cent to 65,000 tonnes. This trade was valued at an estimated €125m.

Outlook

Looking forward to this year the prospects for the pigmeat sector in 2014 will be helped by relatively tight EU supplies, ongoing steady global demand and some easing in feed prices.

Although there is some concern as to how the market will move following poor prices at the end of 2013.

However, Irish finished pig supplies are likely to show a slight recovery in 2014 as the effects of PRRS recede and more favourable feed costs prevail. This being the case and an expected 1 per cent increase in breeding pig numbers, supplies are estimated to rise 2 per cent next year.

The rise in throughput is expected to mean some recovery in export volumes to around 180,000 tonnes.

Vietnam and Thailand are expected to open to Irish pigmeat exports in 2014. Import demand across key international markets is expected to rise in 2014, with the strongest growth forecast in South Korea and China, six per cent and three per cent higher, respectively. Across other key markets like Russia and Japan, low single-digit growth in import demand is expected.