Dear readers,

                   Winter holidays are over, more and more news emerge and, fortunately, many good ones:

  • The Chinese embargo on Belgian pork meat, determined by the African Swine Fever(A.S.F), was lifted during Prime Minister De Croo’s diplomatic mission in China.
  • The association of Brazilian slaughterhouses has announced that another 2 Brazilian pork slaughterhouses will be audited by the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) for a possible authorization to export.
  • His Majesty King Felipe VI has accepted the presidencyof the Honorary Committee of the World Ham Congress, organized by the National Association of Meat Industries of Spain and the Business Federation of Meat and Meat Industries, with the collaboration of the Interprofessional Association of the Iberian Pig and the Interprofessional Association of the White Coated Pig. Politics can coexist with our industry!
  • In the U.K. Cranswick has announced the acquisition of Froch Foods Holdings, an added value processor of predominantly pork and poultry products. Froch Foods provides processing capabilities to its flagship retail partner for the production of a range of bacon and cooked meats products.
  • The U.S. Nebraska Department of Agriculture intends to distribute grants valued at $5.1 million to small meat processors that plan to expand or improve their operations. Applicants must have annual revenues of less than $2.5 million and employ fewer than 25 people.
  • The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets plans to offer grants of between $35,000 and $300,000, up to a total of $1.6 million, to meat processors and produce growers who are considering launching infrastructure improvements, addressing worker and food safety issues and or improving climate resilience and sustainability.
  • If you produce more, you need to sell more. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is awarding the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which works to increase the value and profit opportunities for U.S. beef, pork and lamb products, $12.8 million via the Market Access Program (MAP)and $988,000 in Foreign Market Development founds.

My Car Drives Diesel!

            Things are not going well everywhere for our industry.

The Danish government wants to impose stricter requirements on piglet production. Sows are no longer allowed to be confined in farrowing crates and castration with anesthesia is made mandatory. Another goal is to leave the tails intact. Employees at sow farms will be required to follow animal welfare training. 

In the Netherlands, 530 pig farmers apply for the programs supporting the closing of their farms, the majority are located in Brabant (162), followed by Limburg (136), Gelderland (102) and Overijssel (81). North Holland is the only province that has not yet reported a pig farm. Where are the main markets for the Dutch pig industry today? According to the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO), exports in 2023 were around 7.09 million pigs, reflecting an increase of 70,800 animals or 1% compared to the previous year. The export of fattened pigs increased with 10.2% to 901,500 heads sent mainly to Germany, which increased significantly by 47.3% to 815,800 pigs ready for slaughter. The piglet export from the Netherlands also recorded an increase compared to 2022, totaling 5.71 million piglets. Again, Germany was the largest recipient with around 2.88 million piglets, but which represents a decrease of 65,500 animals or 2.2%. The drop in Dutch piglet sales to Belgium, Poland and Italy was even steeper, some of which fell by more than half. However, these falls were offset by the 17% increase in piglet exports to Spain, totaling almost 2 million piglets. In addition, sales in Romania increased by 12%, to 173,300 animals. The export of Dutch sows for slaughter fell by around 42,000 animals or 8.7%, to 441,000 sows, compared to 2022. Shipments to Germany increased by 3.4%, to almost 206,000 animals, while Croatia remained the 2nd most important customer, with around 140,300 sows. On the contrary, sales of breeding sows experienced a rebound and increased compared to 2022 by more than half, to 38,600 animals. Spain replaced Germany as the most important customer with 13,400 breeding sows delivered to Spain and 11,400 to Germany, representing an increase of almost 50% in both cases. Slaughter in the Netherlands decreased significantly compared to 2022, by 944,000 animals or 6%, up to 14.75 million heads. Last week’s reference price decrease in the Dutch pig slaughterhouses will just encourage this process.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring Germany, farmer protests reach another peak this Monday, over 10.000 tractors are expected to reach Berlin today, other cities will face demonstrations also.

Since the start of the protest last Monday, the government has shown some moderate willingness to negotiate with the farmers, but it may have been too late. The population mostly shows support for the farmers and workers from other domains also started spontaneous protest, as general strike is forbidden in Germany. In our region Romanian farmers are also protesting, even their revendications are unclear.

However, in my opinion, the main issue to follow is the development of the political situation, considering that we will se elections in many European countries this year.

So called farmer/agrarian parties almost disappeared from the European political landscape. We have seen some resurrection of them in the beginning of the 90’s in the former socialist countries, but this phenomenon didn’t last.

We are used to see everything in a bipartisan way. We have, in politics, left and right, and we also have their extreme variations. Green parties have emerged relatively recently as a parliamentary relevant option, shortly becoming the “natural” option for constituting a political majority that does not include far wing options. Current protest are now used by mainly far right politicians in order to increase the support for their own political agenda. It seems the right moment for the reappearance of farmers parties, as natural opponent for the “greens”, or we will see far right wing parties getting to power and we do not have a good experience on this option…

European pig and piglet prices: HW= Hot weight; L= live weight;

GERMANY2,1 HW73/25 kg 
NETHERLANDS1,86-1,95 HW68,5/25 kg 
BELGIUM1,49 L67/20 kg 
DANEMARK1,63 HW80/30 kg 
FRANCE1,78 HW   
ITALY1,77 L115kg, 2,11 L160kg, DOC122,5/30 kg   
SPAIN1,64 -1,65 L 82-91/20kg 
AUSTRIA2,04 HW94/31 kg 
POLAND1,42-1,83 L78-120/20-30 kgPartner info; no quotation
CROATIA2,0-2,1 HW97-102 / 25 kgPartner info; no quotation
SERBIA2,12 L 110-117/ 25 kgPartner info; no quotation
CZECH R.2,1 HW69-74/ 25 kgPartner info; no quotation
SLOVAKIA1,7 -1,75 L92-97/25 kgPartner info; no quotation
HUNGARY1,7 – 1,83 L92-97/ 25 kgPartner info; no quotation
ROMANIA1,7 – 1,91 L92-97/25kgPartner info; no quotation

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