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Slovakian pig sector at rock bottom

Slovak pig breeders are facing a serious crisis in the wake of a slump in pigmeat prices to as little as SK 32/kg (€0.93). This is  €0.23 to 0.26 below production costs.

"Pig numbers will keep falling for as long as the low prices persist and sow numbers are certain to slump below the current 76,000 head level," Andrej Imrich, chairman of the Slovak Pig Breeders Union, said this week.

"This year is going to be critical as many breeders will lose their patience and give up," Igor Guba, chairman of the Krakovany Cooperative in the district of Pieštany. He warned that the national decline in sow numbers is going to be even more considerable than in recent years when numbers fell by an annual 10% from 125,000 - 130,000 head in 2002.

Cheap imports from Poland

This year's decline is attributed to the general surplus of pigmeat all over Europe, and Slovak prices have been particularly affected by cheap imports from Poland. "Our only hopes are the markets in Russia and in south-east Asia, but even if we make the most of it prices are unlikely to return to the levels of two years ago when pigmeat fetched around SK 41/kg, (€1.19/kg)" Imrich said.

The situation in the pigmeat sector has been compared with that in the potato and vegetable sectors. "We will not be able to produce even half of the domestic consumption level and ultimately it will be the consumer who pays the price," Guba warned.

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