Pig prices to fall but no reason to squeal

It's still worth getting pork onto forks despite predicted price fall

Agribusiness
PRICE FALL: Over-the-hooks pig prices are tipped to fall in the medium term but should remain at historically high levels.

PRICE FALL: Over-the-hooks pig prices are tipped to fall in the medium term but should remain at historically high levels.

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ABARES says pig production will grow and prices fall in the medium term.

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Over-the-hook pig prices in Australia are expected to gradually fall in the medium-term from their peaks of this year but will remain at historically high levels.

ABARES is tipping pig prices of 319 cents a kilogram dressed in 2024-25 compared with this financial year's forecast of 390c.

Pork price increases have been driven by an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) which has decimated China's pig herd, the biggest in the world.

ABARES says the highly contagious disease is unlikely to be contained in the short term.

This means countries such as China will rely on imports of pork and other substitute proteins over the short to medium term.

High pork prices will encourage a supply response in countries that are able to increase their production capacity.

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Prices are likely to fall slightly from current historical highs but they will remain elevated as the global pork industry restructures, ABARES says.

The timing of any price fall will depend on the rate of recovery of production in China. Underlying demand for meat in China is expected to grow with a rise in incomes and population.

Australian sow numbers are forecast to rise marginally in 2020-21 to 261,000 in response to high pork prices and reach 271,000 by 2024-25.

High feed costs will put a lid on any major lift in production which is predicted to rise from 380,000 tonnes this year to 404,000 tonnes by 2024-25.

However, ABARES says production will increase mainly to meet domestic demand with Australians eating around 26kg of pork a year.

Australia has high production costs compared with the likes of the United States, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain.

Pork imports are tipped to rise in the medium term from 178,000 tonnes this year to 186.000 in 2024-25.

During the 10 years to 2017-18 total domestic pig meat consumption increased by an average of one per cent a year.

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However, since 2016-17 per capita consumption has declined due to strong price competition from chicken.

In the unlikely scenario that China rapidly eradicates ASF or a vaccine is discovered, a rapid recovery in pork production in China could lead to a global oversupply and a sharp fall in prices, ABARES says.

Australia's ability to keep ASF out of the domestic pig population is a risk factor for the medium term outlook.

An outbreak of ASF in the domestic pig population could cause serious harm to the Australian pork industry. A restriction on supply and high prices resulting from an ASF outbreak are likely to result in consumers substituting primarily towards chicken and to a lesser extent lamb and beef.

The story Pig prices to fall but no reason to squeal first appeared on Farm Online.

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