Weekly Product Updates

W1 Pork Update: Surging Piglet Prices Amidst Stability in White Pork Markets, and Escalating African Swine Fever Concerns in Europe

Frozen Pork Ham & Shoulder
Published Jan 12, 2024

Piglet Prices Skyrocketed, Pork Mostly Stable in Early 2024

A stark dichotomy defines the early 2024 global pork market. Propelled by an unwavering demand-supply imbalance, piglet prices continue their significant ascent. Conversely, white pork prices across Europe and the United States (US) exhibit a temporary stasis after a year of boisterous fluctuations.

Piglet prices in W1 skyrocketed 22.22% year-on-year (YoY), a testament to the tightening vise-like grip on supply. European sow herds have withered, with Germany alone witnessing a 4.5% farm decline and a staggering 24.6% herd shrinkage over the last ten years. This dwindling producer base grapples with robust demand, increasing piglet prices. Piglet scarcity brings relief to white pork prices. The new year brought little price movement across major European and US markets. Germany's benchmark price held firm at USD 2.30 per kilogram (kg), though with slightly lower volumes than historical trends. Similarly, France's Breton Pork Market renewed its price at USD 1,953 per metric ton (mt), navigating temporary demand fluctuations caused by withdrawal delays. This stability follows a year of white pork price turbulence, with holiday seasons and geopolitical tremors acting as key market catalysts.
In contrast to the European and US lull, the Chinese market pulsates with pre-Lunar New Year fervor. Already on an upward trajectory, pork prices received a boost in W1, surging by USD 2,052/mt. The impending holiday fuels demand, keeping the Chinese pork market on a sizzling trajectory. Despite the current white pork market being calm, there are still a few concerns. A potential German strike and ongoing Breton withdrawal delays could introduce volatility in the coming weeks. Additionally, with its potentially lower demand, the post-holiday period will be closely scrutinized to gauge the market's future course. While piglets continue their triumphant ascent, white pork prices take a breather, poised to navigate the uncertainties of 2024.

African Swine Fever Affects Five New European Countries

Compared to 2022, African swine fever (ASF) in 2023 cast a long shadow over European pork production, with a significant expansion in affected countries and outbreaks. German pork production interest group raises concerns about the disease's ongoing threat and requires continued vigilance by industry stakeholders and governmental authorities.

Total ASF cases in Europe nearly doubled in 2023, reaching a staggering 12,121 compared to 2022's figure of 6,395. Greece, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Sweden reported their first-ever ASF outbreaks, highlighting the widening geographical reach of the disease. Domestic pig herds were particularly affected, with case numbers skyrocketing from 515 in 2022 to over 4,500 in 2023. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia emerged as hotspots, with over 1,500 and 1,100 cases, respectively. While case numbers in wild boars remained comparable to 2022, with Poland, Italy, Germany, and Latvia recording the highest figures, the persistence of the virus within this population poses a continuous risk of spillover to domestic herds. A potential glimmer of hope emerges from Germany, where declining ASF cases in wild boars offer cautious optimism. This trend could pave the way for the partial or complete lifting of restriction zones in affected federal states.

Looking ahead, the significant expansion of ASF in Europe in 2023 underlines the urgency of robust biosecurity measures, surveillance efforts, and international cooperation to combat the spread of this devastating disease. Continued research and development of effective vaccines and control strategies remain crucial for long-term mitigation.

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