Russian import curbs look like having little impact on Europe’s beef industry, but do represent a further challenge to a pork sector already dealing with animal welfare reforms and a demand slowdown.
European Union beef exporters will “easily” find alternative buyers for the meat which they can no longer sell to Russia after Moscow unveiled a one-year ban on ag imports from the bloc, and countries such as Australia and US which also imposed sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the Ukraine crisis.
While the EU will lose some 15,000 tonnes in beef exports to Russia in the second half of 2014, to judge by comparison with last year, it will be able to find “alternative markets” for these supplies, US Department of Agriculture foreign staff said.
“Exports to other third countries destinations, mainly to the Balkans and Hong Kong, rose by nearly 20,000 tonnes during the first half of this year,” the USDA staff said in a report.
The forecast assumes EU beef output falling to a 48-year low, for the bloc’s 28 current countries combined, of 7.49m tonnes next year, a reflection of a beef herd seen dropping below 12m head, extending a long-term decline.
Big pork market
However, for pork, the closure of exports to Russia – actually already blocked in February thanks to an outbreak of African swine fever in the eastern EU – is proving more problematic.
The EU last year shipped 667,000 tonnes of pork to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, with shipments to the latter two countries suffering too because of African swine fever.
“At the same time [EU] exports to China and Hong Kong are stagnating.”
Indeed, while volumes have risen to Japan, South Korea and the US, whose own output has been hurt by outbreaks of porcine epidemic diahorrea virus (PEDv), “the overall increase is, however, insufficient to counterbalance the lower sales to Russia, the Belarus and the Ukraine”.
And if African swine flu spreads further, exports to other markets look like being “significantly” affected too.
Pork vs chicken
Europe’s pork industry is already struggling with, besides the disease and Russia trade setbacks, the impact of improved animal welfare requirements which have fuelled a decline in the sow herd to a forecast 12.48m head next year, from 17.09m head in 1999.
“After enforcement of the animal welfare regulations in January 2013, the EU sow numbers are expected to continue to decline in almost all EU member states,” but particularly in the east of the bloc, where the industry is less efficient, the report said.
Indeed, output, in terms of piglet production, will fall by 800,000 head in Poland alone from 2012-14, and 600,000 head in Italy, but rise by a combined 2m head in the Benelux states, Denmark, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Meanwhile, Europe’s own consumption pork is seeing only sluggish growth.
“Broiler meat is increasingly preferred by consumers based on the perceived health benefits above the generally more fatty pork products,” the report said.
“Poultry is also more easily processed in snacks and prepared meals.”
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/russian-import-curbs-hurt-eu-pork-exporters–7488.html)