Hungary: Why is the pig sector in a crisis?

Time series data highlights the long decline of Hungary’s pig sector that started years before the ASF outbreaks.

A picture of two cute pigs.
Beeld: ©Kenneth Schipper Vera

According to recent data of the pig sector in Hungary in December, 2021, by the Central Statistical Office (KSH), the sector in the country has gone through a visible decline in the past two decades which continues to this day.

While in the beginning of the 2000s, the domestic pig sector counted 4.8-5.1 million heads of pig livestock, this figure had decreased by 44% by 2021, to 2.73 million heads. The news portal Agrárszektor has published an assessment of the time series data and the numbers show that while African Swine Fever is the new nemesis of pig farmers, the decline started long before the prominence of the livestock epidemic and pig livestock numbers had already started decreasing in 2002.

The total pig livestock population of 2.72 million in December, 2021 was 5% lower than in December, 2020, when the head count showed 2.85 million heads and it was also 13% lower than the figure in 2015 (3.124 million heads).

There was a drastic population decrease in 2019 (200 thousand heads, 9% of the total, to 2.634 million) from which the 2020 December figure showed an increase (by 8%, to 2.85 million). The rate of the decline in recent years can be explained by governmental measures introduced due to the appearance of ASF in wild game populations and the PRRS eradication program that started in 2014.

Meanwhile, the price of pigs for slaughter have been constantly increasing, from €0.74 per kilogram in 2002 (current exchange rate) to €1.04 in the end of 2001. This figure, however, has been volatile and has fallen from its 2019 peak of €1.2 (current exchange rate).

The underlying issue of pig husbandry in Hungary is that in the past decades, pig farming has been steadily losing its profitability. Farmers that combine pig farming with crop cultivation and animal feed production have been reporting that the former burns up the profits from the latter two.

State Secretary Zsolt Feldman of the Ministry of Agriculture has recently announced a new subsidy measure to address the pig sector’s situation – Find out more in our previous report on the sector.

Last year we published an in-depth analysis on Hungary's pig sector - You can find it here.


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