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EU pig prices: pandemic pressures and low slaughter capacity cause drop in prices

The European pork markets saw a significant drop in pig prices this week, influenced by both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of slaughter days.

15 April 2020, at 10:01am

ISN reports this week that pig prices across the EU market dropped by varying amounts and were ultimately impacted by a reduction in slaughter capacity of processing plants, a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to this trend, prices in France remained stable.

The German quotation dropped by 5 cents this week, due to the building pressure from slaughterhouses over the seven days. Belgium observed an equally significant drop of 6 cents in the live pig price but the Netherlands saw only a marginal drop of 1 cent. According to the Dutch trade magazine, boerderij, the Dutch livestock traders were not prepared to make up the difference between the prices paid by slaughterers and the price fixed up to that point.

In Italy, it is estimated that slaughter and processing capacity has dropped by around 30 percent as a result of of the coronavirus pandemic hitting meat plant workforces and logistics. The moderate price drop in Spain is predominantly attributed to a drop in slaughter capacity - absenteeism and the Easter holiday are the primary causes for this.

Concerns have been voiced over the sudden and significant drop in US hog prices as many EU members rely on China as a primary export destination. With this sudden drop in US prices, increased competition for export to China is expected.

Graph showing the current price comparison of live pigs for slaughter in Europe over the past seven days
European pig price comparison by the ISN

1) corrected quotation: The official Quotations of the different countries are corrected, so that each quotation has the same base (conditions).2) These quotations are based on the correction formulas applied since 01.08.2010. base: 57 percent lean-meat-percentage; farm-gate-price; 79 percent killing-out-percentage, without value-added-tax. © ISN