Coronavirus having an ‘unsettling’ effect on EU pork market


By Alistair Driver, Pig World (UK) 

March 19, 2020


Coronavirus is unsettling the market for slaughter pigs across Europe due to the closure of borders, a big drop off in food service demand and the cancellation of events.


Citing a report by AMI, an agricultural market information company in Germany, AHDB analyst Duncan Wyatt said: “Many borders are closed, as are restaurants, and major events are cancelled.


“Across Europe, companies slaughtering pigs are therefore extremely cautious. Farmers are trying to market their existing slaughter pigs as quickly as possible, resulting in pressure on prices.”


In Italy, in particular, where coronavirus has hit hardest, slaughter companies and meat processors have significantly reduced their production.


“Farmers are finding it hard to market remaining pigs and transportation is sometimes difficult. Price falls are expected. However, the industry is still operating,” Mr Wyatt said.


According to Italian farming union, Coldiretti, from a legal point of view, goods are supposed to move normally. There are border checks that can slow down trade, but they are not stopping the free movement of goods, only people.


Another issue Italy is experiencing is with labour. As with many European countries, Italy relies on labour from other countries, meaning the restriction on the movement of people is causing shortages.


“Although the restrictions introduced do not prohibit travel for work reasons, movements allowed into the country have to be accompanied by a self-declaration form. However, there is apparently a strong risk of a labour shortage as increasingly people are refusing to work due to fear of possible infection from other people,” Mr Wyatt said.


“Some hauliers are also understandably concerned about the health of their drivers...