European Union member states report that total pig numbers in early-summer were down nearly 6 percent compared with 2007, to 143.4 million head. Even more surprising is an 8 percent decline in the number of sows to 9.1 million. Spain, Poland and Germany reported the most significant breeding herd contraction.

The decline in animal numbers had little impact on total EU pork produced in the first half of 2008. During the third quarter, however, tighter supplies began to be reflected in higher pig prices. Production could be down by as much as 5 percent in the final quarter of 2008.

In Denmark, production is forecast to be down 10 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2007. In Germany and Spain, production is also forecast to be down 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Poland will see 19 percent fewer pigs available for slaughter or live export than in the same quarter in 2007.

A sharp fall in production is projected for the U.K, Denmark, Poland, and other eastern European countries. In the EU as a whole, production could be down around 5 percent in the first half of 2009.

The European Union exported over 1 million metric tons of pork in the first six months of 2008-- an increase of more than 40 percent compared with in the same period of 2007. Exports of frozen pork to Russia doubled to 142,000 metric tons.

The E.U. shipped more frozen pork to Japan and Hong Kong. In contrast, less was exported to South Korea and the United States than last year. In addition, Danish exports of pork have risen by 15 percent in the first half of 2008, Germany has also exported more pork outside of the EU this year.