Bacon prices skyrocket in Ukraine as pig supply nosedives

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

An African swine fever epidemic has piled pressure on local farms that supply pigs used to make bacon
An African swine fever epidemic has piled pressure on local farms that supply pigs used to make bacon

Related tags Pig Domestic pig Pork

The prices for bacon, the most popular national dish in Ukraine, have jumped 68% since January 2017 to UAH100 (US$3.70), as the population of pigs in the country's backyard farms keeps falling, according to the State Statistical Service.

In several regions, including Odessa and Mikolaiv, the price for bacon has jumped by 100% since early 2017, while the maximum price seen in Kiev, where the price for the high-quality premium bacon reaches UAH450 (US$16.65) per kg.

Government agencies believe that the main reason for the rise in price is the continuing fall in the domestic pig population, which has dropped by 10% to 6.7 million heads since January of this year.

On the other hand, it is believed that the epidemic of the African swine fever​ (ASF) has taken a toll, as it puts pressure on backyard farms, which are the main producers of bacon.

Alexey Doroshenko, director of the Ukraine Association of Retail Chain Suppliers, speaking recently at a press conference, outlined that, as a rule, industrial pig farms use pig breeds with a low fat content for meat, while historically, production of bacon from pigs bred with a high fat content has been the niche of backyard farms.

He also expressed confidence that the investment cycle in the pig farming is around three to five years, so even at the extremely high prices, producers would not be able to switch to manufacturing of bacon.

In this regard, he forecast that Ukraine would probably start importing bacon in 2018 from the European Union, primarily from Poland and Germany, where industrial farms are growing special breeds of pigs to produce bacon.

He added that importers would be able to compete on price with domestic farmers, because the industrial method of breeding is more cost-effective than the backyard farms.

ASF gains momentum

Ukraine has registered 140 outbreaks of ASF in 2017, the country’s Food Safety and Consumer Protecting Agency said in the statement on its website on 6 December.

This is a very high figure as, by comparison, the country has reported on the 148 outbreaks of the disease in the previous five years from 2012 to 2016. However, it is still below the initial government forecast of around 200 outbreaks of ASF in the country in 2017.

In 2017, 111 outbreaks of ASF were registered at farms, and most of them were reported in backyard farms, which have the lowest levels of biosecurity.

To take down ASF, Ukraine plans to boost funding for the country's anti-epizootic program from UAH 113.7 million (US$4.15m) in 2017 to UAH 687.2m (US$25.12m), Vladimir Lapa, the head of the government veterinary agency revealed earlier this month.

In 2019, he added, anti-epizootic funding should be increased further, so that it “by nearly ten times exceeds the level of 2017​”.

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