Pigmeat prices are rising throughout Europe as a consequence of the ongoing global epidemic of African Swine Fever (ASF) and subsequent expanding European pork exports to China. Take the Baltic states, for instance, where the developments have led to changing market conditions.
Estonia: No more pork self-sufficiency
Anna Mere, chairman of the board of the Estonian meat processor HKScan Estonia, told local publication ERR: “We are speaking about the increase of the purchasing price for pork by 40% [in Estonia] since the beginning of the year. When it comes to raw materials for sausage production the prices jumped by 50% compared to what we had in early 2019.”
Mere added that one of the factors contributing to the price rally has been the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic in China, where the government was prompted to purchase large pork quantities from the European Union in order to avoid shortage on the domestic market.
Olle Horm, executive director of another Estonian meat processor Atria Eesti, said: “European countries, and first of all Germany, Spain, Finland and Denmark, have launched a large scale pork exports to China, which creates a shortage of pork in Europe and, respectively, impacts the prices.”
The soaring pork prices have already pushed the demand for poultry and beef in the Baltic region up in 2019 as compared to the previous year, according to Horm.
Horm explained that the problem is that after the ASF epidemic in 2016, Estonia ended up having a pork self-sufficiency of 60% to 70%. Before the epidemic that figure used to be close to 100%. For that reason, pork prices are rising in Estonia, even though the country is not directly exporting pork to China.
The purchasing price of pigmeat, as paid to farmers in Estonia, was € 1.70/kg as of September of 2019, only 13.4% up compared to September of 2018, according to the Estonian Statistical Department.
Pork for sale at the Riga Central Market, Latvia. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
Latvia: Customers will feel pork price increase
The increase in prices is good news for pig farmers in Latvia, but bad for customers, Heino Lapins, director of HKScan Latvia said. Since the beginning of the epidemic in China, the price for pork on the main European market has been on the rise, including in Germany it jumped from € 1.40/kg to € 1.70/kg since the beginning of 2019, which was the strongest increase in the past decade, Lapins said.
Latvia’s state statistical agency estimated that the retail price for pork in October 2019 was by 10.4% higher than as of October of 2018.
Lithuania: prices paid to farmers up 30%
The purchasing prices for pork paid to farmers in Lithuania increased by 30% since at the beginning of the year, said Saulius Leonavicius, director of Idavang, speaking recently at a press conference. The retail prices are 22% higher than a year ago. Leonavicius pointed to a common expectation that pork prices on the domestic market will continue to grow over the next 2 to 3 years.
In a different analysis, by the Lithuanian Meat Processors Association, pork prices in Lithuania started growing in spring, and have grown by 30% year-on-year.