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French pig industry yet to regain lost ground

French pig producers are finally starting to see finished pig prices catch up with production costs, according to the French national agricultural statistics agency Agreste, but they have yet to regain the lost ground from the past year when prices failed to cover costs.

Producers now face the prospect of the usual year-end tailing off in prices, which are expected to last until early next year.

Finished pig numbers for August topped 2 million head, bringing the calendar year-to-date total to 16.3 million. Having drastically cut sow numbers at the end of last summer, this August's breeding stock cull total of 33,890 head was just over 10% down year-on-year.

Pig meat exports have witnessed an improvement. July's monthly total of 59,000 tonnes was 16% higher year-on-year. This included significant tonnages to Russia, Denmark and Belgium.

Internal pigmeat consumption in France dropped to around 150,000 tonnes (total carcass equivalent) in July, which is significantly lower than at any point during 2006 or 2007.

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