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Armenian pig industry going through hard times

Armenia’s pig industry is going through an especially hard time these days with rough competition, low prices and a government unsympathetic to agriculture. Some even fear the domestic industry could be on the verge of extinction.

Over the last few months, average pork prices have been falling in Armenia against the background of rising import supplies from other member states of the Eurasia Economy Union member states, especially Russia and Belarus. The Armenian newspaper Jamanak reported about that tendency late February.

Armenian meat production

A vast majority of Armenia’s population is Christian and hence has an appetite for pork. Last year, the country produced around 38,000 tonnes of meat. Nearly 30% of that accounted for pork, according to the data from the National Statistic Agency. As of early February 2018, the average price for boneless pork in Armenia was 2,900 dram ($ 5.90) per kg.

Piglets on a farm in Armenia. Photo: Shutterstock
Piglets on a farm in Armenia. Photo: Shutterstock

That price has been under pressure in the last months of 2018 and the 1st months of 2019, when pork imports from Russia and Belarus were on the rise, Jamanak wrote. The paper did not provide any additional details on price dynamics.

Although the price drop is good news for consumers, it constitutes a big problem for farmers, Jamanak wrote. It is believed that pig farmers in Armenia have already been operating below the edge of profitability. Jamanak added that similar problems emerge at the horizon for the beef industry.

New regulations for agricultural subsidies

According to the newspaper, if nothing changes in Armenia, its pig business may cease to exist. The problems may even be aggravated by the attitude of the national authorities in Yerevan. The previous Armenian government was providing some state support to the domestic agricultural industry in a form of 25% subsidy on fertilisers, diesel fuel, feedstuffs and some other goods.

In 2018, however, a new government came to power and all subsidies to the agricultural producers were abandoned. Although pig farmers were not directly dependent on state support, that decision is expected to add some problems to the industry.

In comparison: Pigs and pork in Russia

In Russia, average prices for pork are significantly lower when compared to Armenia. As of early March 2019 it was around 152.3 roubles ($ 2.30)/kg in European Russia, and slightly higher in the Ural area Siberia, according to estimates by the Russian State Statistical Service.

Speaking at a recent press conference in Moscow, Sergey Yushin, chairman of the National Meat Union of Russia predicted that it was likely that the price for pork would be falling in Russia as well in the course of 2019.

So far, there are no official reports available pointing into a direction of increasing pork exports from either Russia or Belarus.