“I think that is very do-able,” he said. “It is possible that we might do a bit more, but I wouldn’t want to bet on it.”
Looking at key economic indicators for the British pig herd this year, he saw slaughterings soon starting to turn downwards.
“I would urge some caution though. We can all name people who have gone out of pigs over the last six months, but if we think about it we can probably think of people who are keeping a few more sows as well.”
As far as the European Union herd was concerned there was no new data yet since the downturns reported in the summer surveys of member countries. But as long as there was pressure to ensure countries complied with the stalls ban, then further reductions would be seen, he predicted.
“The latest European Union forecast puts the fall in production this year at 3 per cent. I think that is overcooking it a bit but I do think production will be down around 2 per cent.”
If reports were correct that 25 per cent of European Union sows were still in stalls, there was bound to be pressure for a decline in European sow numbers, he said.
There might be some compensation from increased productivity “but I think we will still see a tighter European market.” The implications of a fall in production were improved prices this year and into 2014, he said.
“However consumer resistance was very obvious when the European market took off last year and the pig price went up to 180-185 euros.
“It was too much, and consumer resistance meant they couldn’t sustain it. Don’t forget that in many countries pigmeat is the meat of choice, so it is much more sensitive to price changes, which creates a sort of natural cap.”