Industry experts less than pleased by pig production profits
A recent report from the Danish Pig Research Centre has indicated that the nation’s pig industry slaughtered fewer animals and exported less last year, due largely in part to higher, more unstable feed costs.
According to the global pork industry organisation Pig Site, which published the report, 2012 saw a seven percent decrease in the number of pigs slaughtered, and a 1.6 percent decrease in overall production, which includes animals slaughtered and exports. The decrease can be partially explained by unexpectedly large increases on soybean and grain prices, while pork prices only enjoyed a slight boost during the same period.
Pig producers who grow their own feed remained virtually unaffected by the trends, the report explained, but the situation was damaging for farmers who produce younger weaner pigs.
“For weaner producers purchasing feed, the situation is a lot more unstable,” the report clarified. “Fluctuating prices of feed and weaners put economy and cash-flow under considerable pressure.”
The industry has also seen a significant drop in investment in finishing facilities – farms where young pigs are kept until they reach market weight. According to the report, these investments have stagnated since the financial crisis began in 2008, meaning that run-down finishing farms are taken out of production and no longer replaced.
“Weaner exports increase, leading to a vicious circle that puts pressure on the capacity utilisation of the slaughterhouses and thereby on pig prices as well,” the report explained. “This is an extremely unfortunate development for the national economy and for the pig industry.”
The developments weren’t all negative, however. Farms have made significant strides in addressing animal welfare issues and regulations to improve the industry’s impact on the environment, and the overall use of antibiotics in pig farms dropped by 20 percent last year.