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AHDB Pork Country Reports

11 December 2012

BPEX / AHDB Country Report - PolandBPEX / AHDB Country Report - Poland

BPEX / AHDB Country Reports

POLAND’s pig breeding herd has declined significantly in recent years but it is still one of the EU’s major producers. With per capita pig meat consumption remaining relatively high, it is increasingly important as a market for both pig meat and live pigs from other Member States. The UK is currently the fifth largest supplier of pork to Poland, with a five per cent market share, but this is rising as supplies from traditional sources become more limited. Growing demand for weaners, from producers who have switched from breeding to finishing, is a significant trend for pig breeders elsewhere in Europe.

Pig Numbers

The Polish pig herd has reduced significantly since the country joined the EU and that decrease shows no sign of ending. In the year to June 2012, the number of pigs in Poland fell by 12 per cent, with the breeding herd down by nearly ten per cent. As in previous years, the decline is largely the result of poor profitability for Polish breeders. This has led some to leave the industry while others have switched to finishing.

Although the overall size of the breeding herd has fallen sharply, the number of in-pig sows and gilts was actually higher than in June 2011, although it was markedly lower than in June 2010. Nevertheless, this suggests that the decline in the number of pigs being raised for slaughter may slow down in the coming months.

The falling breeding herd is also reflected in the number of piglets and young pigs in Poland. However, sharply increased imports of weaners mean that the number of slaughter pigs was little different to a year earlier.

Polish Pig Numbers, June

Source: Eurostat


The declining Polish pig herd is reflected in pig slaughterings during the first six months of 2012. Throughputs were down by over five per cent compared with the same period last year at just over 10 million head. Increased imports of weaners to be finished in Poland prevented an even sharper decline. The decline in slaughterings was partly offset by heavier carcase weights, meaning that pig meat production was down by just two per cent at 884,000 tonnes.

Polish Pig Slaughterings

Source: Eurostat


Poland is a net importer of pig meat. However, despite reduced production, exports have risen more rapidly than imports in recent years. This trend has continued in the first half of 2012, with exports of fresh and frozen pork rising by 13 per cent, while imports rose by just six per cent. The two main suppliers of pork to Poland, Germany and Denmark, shipped lower volumes, partly because they shipped more live pigs instead.

January - June

Source: Eurostat, GTIS

However, this was more than offset by increased shipments from other suppliers, notably Belgium and the Netherlands.

So far this year, more than half of Polish pork exports have left the EU, with shipments up by more than a third. The main driver was increased shipments to Ukraine, which bounced back from a poor first half of 2011. Shipments to Belarus, the largest market for Polish pork also increased. In addition, Poland increased exports to several Far Eastern markets, including Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, and to Russia.

Exports to the rest of the EU were more subdued, falling back by three per cent. Lower shipments to several western Member States were largely offset by increased volumes sent to eastern Member States, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Exports of bacon, sausages and other processed products were also slightly higher than last year.

Poland has been a significant importer of live pigs since it joined the EU in 2004, with numbers rising steadily from just under 250,000 in 2006 to more than ten times that number last year. That trend has continued in the first six months of 2012, with the number of pigs imported almost a third higher than in 2011 at 1.54 million head. Over 80 per cent were weaners, with two thirds sourced from Denmark which overtook the Netherlands as the main supplier to Polish finishers last year. The Netherlands only accounted for a fifth of all weaners in the first half of 2012, compared with over half in 2010. Although much smaller, imports of slaughter pigs increased by more than half to 216,000 head, with most coming from Germany. Live pig exports have followed an opposite trend, declining to under 71,000 head in the first half of 2012.


Other than a fall around the turn of the year, Polish pig prices have been on an upward trend since early 2011. So far this year, prices have averaged around 20 per cent higher than a year earlier as supplies have been significantly tighter. By the end of August, the price was approaching 800 zlotys per 100kg (about €190). In zloty terms, this is the highest price since Poland joined the EU.

Unlike much of the rest of the EU, Polish weaner prices have remained strong throughout 2012, as demand from finishers has remained high despite rising feed prices. This is partly due to more producers switching from breeding to finishing. The average price reached close to 190 zlotys per head (about €45) in April before falling back slightly. However, during July and August, the price increased again as weaner numbers were low, passing 180 zlotys per head at the end of August. This was more than 55 zlotys (43 per cent) higher than a year earlier.

Polish Pig Reference Prices

Source: EU Commission


Polish pig slaughterings during the first half of 2012 were well down on a year earlier, with pig production also lower, despite slightly higher carcase weights. The latest Census figures suggest that the number of finishing pigs on the ground in June was similar to a year earlier but numbers of younger pigs were well down. This suggests that slaughterings during the second half of 2012 will continue to be well down on last year and that a further decline can be expected in 2013. The scale of the fall in pig numbers is likely to be too large to be made up by increased weaner imports, especially as availability is falling in the countries which are the main suppliers. This fall in production may be exacerbated by the rise in feed prices, further eroding the profitability of Polish pig breeders, some of whom may also still need to invest in group housing.

Any further erosion of production will lead to lower supplies available for export. This suggests that the export growth seen in recent years may stall, or even reverse, in 2013. However, with supplies likely to be tighter everywhere, a significant increase in imports seems unlikely. This probably means that the amount of pig meat available for consumption in Poland will once again be lower in 2013, leading to price rises for pig meat products.

Dutch Pig Meat Production and Consumption Forecasts

December 2012

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