Pork production in EU countries is expected to fall by 5 percent to 10 percent and consumers will pay more for pork due to a European sow-stall ban that takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Fewer than half EU member states are expected to be fully compliant with the EU directive banning sow stalls except for the first four weeks of gestation, according to a British Pig Executive (BPEX) report. Significant numbers of farmers in EU countries are expected to be forced out of business because they aren’t compliant with the legislation.
For its part, the U.K. is already fully compliant with the rules. However, many hog farmers in other EU countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany, are still using the stalls.
The European Commission said it expects the rule will be rigorously enforced and has pledged to initiate proceedings against member states that are not fully compliant.
“The Commission is using all tools available at EU level to push member states to comply with the legislation,” said Andrea Gavinelli, of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers. Gavinelli said the Commission was treating the matter as one affecting the very integrity of the EU itself, according to Meat Info, an online meat trade journal.
EU consumers will face higher pork prices at the supermarket as a result of the ban. “We are forecasting wholesale price rises of at least 10 percent year-on-year which could rise to 20 percent if production is reduced.,” said Mick Sloyan, BPEX deputy chief executive.
"Getting this right will demonstrate the integrity of the EU commission and member states in enforcing legislation that they have agreed," said BPEX chairman Stewart Houston. "It will demonstrate the integrity of the whole supply chain that it will protect pig welfare and above all it will benefit consumers through the continued supply of high welfare, high quality pork and pork products."
According to the USDA, the EU produced about 23 million tons of pork in 2011, representing the world’s second largest production. China by far, produces the world’s most pork at about 50 million tons in 2011. The U.S. produced about 10 million tons in 2011, or about 10 percent of the world’s total.