Spain is the largest producer of pigs in Europe with about 2.6 million sows. Last week Spain set a new record hog market price of 1.795 Euros/kg liveweight. About 87¢ lb. U.S. Like North America no one in Spain expects high prices in February, it is counter-seasonal.
There is only one main reason Spain’s price has reached a record level. The decrease of hogs for slaughter in Spain and throughout Europe. We started writing about our expectations of Europe’s potential herd liquidation after our visit to Europe in the fall of 2021. Since then the European sow herd continued to decline while new rules in regard to animal welfare and antibiotic use have led to greater pig mortalities.
Spain probably is the only country in Europe that hasn’t decreased their sow herd significantly. The challenge for Spain is the increase in sow mortality which was below 10% and is now over 14%. At the same time, wean to finish mortality has gone from under 10% to now 14%. Some industry data indicates pigs sold per sow have decreased from 2020 to 2022 by 1.8 pigs sold per sow per year. That is about 4 million fewer market hogs per year. Less hogs to market increases prices while increasing the cost to produce hogs.
- Latest data from Poland; 2020 sow inventory 810,000, end of 2022 at 592,600.
- The June breeding inventory in Great Britain indicated an 18% decrease from the year before. Recent weekly slaughter is down 18%. Last week a new record hog price was reached in Great Britain.
- Germany the second largest swine herd in Europe hog slaughter in 2022 down 10%. We expect when December stats are released their smallest sow herd probably be on record.
- At the end of 2022, Denmark’s sow herd is down 9% from a year ago. Total pigs in inventory are down 10%. The 11.9 million pigs are the lowest in 22 years.
- We don’t have data from many countries in Europe for the end of 2022 but when released we expect to see further erosion of the sow herds and pig inventories. There are definitely less pigs in Europe. There will be even higher prices yet to come. There will be less pork for Europe to export. The current price spread of a market hog in Spain vs. USA is about $90 per head. This will lead to greater U.S. – Canada exports. We expect at some point soon U.S. – Canada prices will push higher and fast.
- The recent U.S. Retail Pork Price average is $4.78 lb. The five-year average is $4.11 lb. Hogs are 75¢ lb. carcass pork cut-outs – 80¢ lb. Seems retailers are the only winner in the current pork chain scenario. The only good thing in our mind is the retail price is high enough to absorb any rapid cut-out and hog price increases.
Record hog prices in Spain, the UK, and other countries in Europe approaching a new record price. Less hogs in Europe will lead to less Pork for export. We expect hog prices in the U.S. to start increasing soon and still expect prices to reach $1.20 lean this year.