Pig industry Bulgaria bounces back in 2023

pig Bulgaria
Photo: Canva

Pig farmers in Bulgaria enjoyed relatively good profitability in 2023, but due to African Swine Fever (ASF), the country is now heavily dependent on pork imports from other EU member states.

Bulgarian pig farming saw a good year in 2023, said Vihren Dimitrov, executive director of the pig complex in Golyamo Vranovo, a village in northern Bulgaria. This partly compensated for the losses the industry suffered in the previous year, Dimitrov described in an interview with a local news outlet, Fakti, as “tragic.”

During the past few years, the Bulgarian pig industry has been hit by weak average profitability and a series of ASF outbreaks.

Rising dependence

Dr. Lubomir Kulinski, director of the Food Control Directorate, BABH, claimed that the general trend of the past several years is that Bulgaria has become more dependent on pork imports from the EU.

Kulinski estimated that poultry farmers meet 90% of domestic demand and export chicken to Austria, Switzerland, Serbia, and North Macedonia. He added that the pork market’s self-sufficiency level stands at less than 50%.

Venceslav Slavov, chairman of the Association of Industrial Pig Breeding, told BTV news that Bulgarian pig farms only meet around 35% of the domestic demand.

Improving profitability

He agreed that pig farms in the country saw their profitability improve last year. He argued however that the production performance did not recover from the 2022 slump triggered by the ASF epidemic.

“Compared to the previous year, 2023 was better economically thanks to lower grain prices. Then, grain prices were twice as high compared to 2023,” added Polina Hadjistoeva, the Bulgarian Association of Pig Breeders chairwoman.

Consumer patriotism

The Bulgarian pig industry may suffer from a lack of consumer patriotism among the local market players.¬†For example, Nikolay Nemigenchev, a local analyst, indicated that the leading suppliers of hotels and restaurants in the country primarily sell foreign pork. He emphasised that Bulgarian pork is usually not inferior in terms of quality but is commonly considered to be rather “tasteless.”

On the other hand, the market shows that the demand for local pork is on the rise, and its shortage following the 2022 ASF outbreaks is one of the reasons bolstering the average industry’s profitability. Slavov said farmgate pork prices during the previous few months jumped by 15%, owing to a lack of pig in slaughter weight in the supply chain.

Vorotnikov
Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent
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