Again this year, Danish pig producers are among the global elite. If we compare ourselves with our European colleagues, we have some of the lowest production costs - even if wages are high. This is shown by the so-called InterPIG-figures, which compare the countries’ national average for efficiency and price with the previous year.
Denmark’s production price per kg deadweight totalled DKK 13.37 per kg. By comparison, Hungary stood at DKK 12.75. Outside the EU, the countries that surpassed Denmark include the U.S. with a production price of DKK 12.73 per kg and Brazil (the state of Santa Catarina) where the production price was DKK 11.81 per kg. As the EU has a tariff wall of DKK 6.47 per kg for deboned pig meat and DKK 3.99 per kg for whole/half carcasses, it is really only outside the EU that U.S. and Brazilian pig meat are competitors.
"When comparing Denmark with other countries in Europe, we were well within the average national carcass production price. Only Hungary has a lower production price in Europe and there is a particular reason for that,” says Michael Groes Christiansen, special adviser at SEGES Innovation.
Two factors explain Hungary’s position
There are particular reasons for Hungary performing better than Denmark in 2022: very low capital costs in their old production facilities and relatively cheap feed. The latter is due to imports of Ukrainian feed, which does not normally enter the EU. However, due to the war with Russia, this was permitted in 2022.
"Cheap feed is a very important factor in terms of competitiveness, which is why Danish pig production was surpassed by Hungary in 2022,” explains Michael Groes Christiansen.
InterPIG reports that Danish finisher feed was, however, the second cheapest in Europe in 2022 (only surpassed by Hungary). Danish finisher feed was, for example, DKK 34.8 cheaper per hecto kg than German finisher feed in 2022.
Danish settlement prices per kg/carcass were relatively poor in 2022 compared to other EU countries, but market prices for piglets were pretty bad throughout the EU. Market prices for Danish piglets were so low that the Danish sow herd fell by around 10 per cent from the end of 2022 compared to the same time last year. As regards the rest of Europe, the sow herd fell by 4.3 per cent – in Germany and Poland by 10.6 and 11 per cent respectively, with the UK falling by approximately 14 per cent fewer sows from June 2021 to June 2022.
"However, it’s been a different picture over the past year. The massive decline in the EU’s sow population led to a boom for piglet producers in 2023 due to reasonable economic conditions again and therefore a high demand for the piglets that remain,” points out Michael Groes Christiansen who adds that as far as production in the sow herd is concerned, Denmark is doing well in terms of productivity.
"We enjoy a top position in the farrowing unit and for grower pigs,” he says.