A decrease in sow numbers driven by low prices and the risk of African swine fever (ASF), as well as ongoing restrictions due to the disease's presence in some countries, will constrain pork production growth in 2019, according to short-term outlook by the European Commission. However, the region does expect a 9% increase export activity due to the ASF endemic in China.
The outlook suggested that pork production will remain stable in 2019 thanks to productivity gains and expected growth in export demand. In fact, the commission said depending on the degree of China's import demand increase due to the spread of ASF there, European Union pork production could be boosted into positive growth.
“The level of EU pig meat exports in 2019 is uncertain and highly dependent on the magnitude of Chinese demand expansion, which currently pushes prices up,” the European Commission noted. Last year, pork exports overall grew 4% but decreased to main destination China (down 8%) and Hong Kong (down 43%). Still, the EU maintained a market share above 60%.
Pork prices are also expected to rise in 2019 following low prices in 2018. While 2019 began with similar price conditions as 2018, the commission said the tightened supply and improving export prospects should support prices.