Denmark braced for record-breaking piglet exports

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Danish piglet exports are expected to break the 13m mark this year
Danish piglet exports are expected to break the 13m mark this year

Related tags Pig Poland Denmark Livestock Pork

Denmark may hit a record 13 million (m) piglet exports when 2016 draws to an end, according to Frank Oland, chief economist at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, who spoke at the Herning Congress in Denmark on 25 October.

Denmark, one of Europe’s leading pig producers, is a net pork exporter, with 90% of its pig meat shipped to more than 120 countries. Oland said the Danish Agriculture & Food Council believed Denmark’s piglet exports would hit 13m this year.

The country’s three largest piglet export markets – Germany, Poland and Italy – have driven the anticipated record-breaking growth. In particular, figures from the Danish Agriculture & Food Council showed a sharp increase in piglet exports from its second-largest buyer, Poland.

The forecast was supported by Finn Udesen, chief consultant of production, economics and statistics at Seges, the Danish Pig Research Centre – a body set up to identify commercial opportunities in pig farming.

Udesen stressed that it was likely piglet exports would rise to 15m head by 2020, with Poland leading the charge. “Germany has been stable, but piglet exports to Poland are up thanks to the reduction of sows here,”​ said Udesen. However, he stressed Poland would be “a tough market later down the line but not in 2017”​ for Denmark. This is because Poland is gearing itself up to become a major EU meat exporter. Millions of euros have been invested in infrastructure with a number of companies, including QFG, channelling money into new factories in the country.

However, due to Poland’s shortage of sows, it has had to import large numbers of piglets from Denmark to fuel the ambition of growing its own pig herd. As a result, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council does not expect Poland to continue importing the same soaring volumes of piglets after 2017 – a factor Oland described as a “big risk”​ for Denmark.

That said, one issue of more immediate concern to Denmark regarding its livestock trade with Poland is the threat of African swine fever (ASF), according to Clause Fertin, CEO of Seges.

On average, Denmark sees 50 trucks per day loaded with live pigs leave its boarders for Europe, and Fertin said this figure could be as high as 25,000 per year. Many of these trucks are Poland-bound and Fertin added Denmark’s pork industry had invested significantly to ensure the trucks did not carry ASF back to Denmark. At least 15-18m Danish kroner is spent every year in properly washing trucks to stop ASF reaching the country. In some instances, where trucks have been to ‘black zones’ in Poland, where ASF is a problem, trucks are intensively cleaned and cannot be driven to a farm for seven days.

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