Pig Sector Challenges in Serbia
African Swine Fever (ASF) has reached Serbia and the pig sector is now facing new difficulties.
The appearance of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been confirmed in ten countries in Europe. Neighboring countries of Serbia, including Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, are dealing with recently identified or long-ongoing outbreaks of ASF (source OIE), so it was to be expected that ASF would be detected in Serbia as well. Last Friday, four positive cases have been confirmed in animals at three backyard farms in the village of Aleksandrvac in Eastern Serbia. There are no large-sized or commercial pig farms in the area. The State Veterinary authorities have declared the village to be an infected area within a radius of 3 km, and proclaimed the surrounding territory an endangered area within a radius of 10 km. All measures are being taken in order to prevent the spreading of the disease. (More available here in Serbian) This recent outbreak of ASF will put more pressure on the already struggling Serbian pig sector.
Pig farming in Serbia
The main characteristic of the Serbian pig sector is its fragmentation. Small scale farmers are predominant in the livestock production. According to surveillance conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2018, the number of pig farms decreased by 10% and the number of animals dropped by 4% compared to the agricultural census done in 2012. There are 320 thousand registered households involved in pig farming which accounts for 57% of all registered farms and they hold 3.3 million pigs. The majority are small households/family farms but also, there are more than two thousand commercial farms. The average number of pigs per farm is 10.2 and the average farm size is 5.4 ha (source: Green Book, MoA).
According to the database of the Veterinary Directorate of Serbia, the number of commercial farms operating in the pig sector is 2.037. The table below shows the number of animals per farm. (source: Sector analyses)
|Number of animals||Number of farms|
|1 000 - 2 999||117|
|3 000 - 4 999||27|
|5 000 - 6 999||10|
|7 000 - 9 999||11|
|10 000 - 14 999||21|
|15 000 - 19 999||12|
|20 000 - 49 999||21|
|50 000 +||2|
The size difference between the average farm in the north part (19.1 animal) and in the south part (7 animals) of the county is significant. Majority of commercial and professional pig farms are located in the northern part of the country.
|Piglets, (weight -20kg)||Pigs (weight 20-49kg||Fattening pigs (weight 50-79kg)||Fattening pigs (weight 80-109kg)||Fattening pigs (weight 110kg+)||Breeding pigs - gilts||Breeding pigs - mated gilts||Breeding pigs - sows||Breeding pigs - mated sows||Breeding pigs - Boars||Pigs - total||Out of total: Fattened pigs|
The Serbian Ministry of Agriculture considers pig meat production to be a priority sector and thus allocates finances for direct payments from the national budget (support for the increase of number of animals; pure breed animals; investments in equipment; support to the feed production etc). Besides the national support there are possibilities to apply for EU funds for rural development (support in the form of re-fund up to 70%). Depending on the type of investment this support can range from 700.000 EUR to 2 million EUR.
Two years ago, the Serbian Government signed a special memorandum of understanding with German meat producer Tönnies in order to start pig production in Serbia. Foreign investments in this sector receive state subsidies per employee. The MoU with Tönnies is still not yet implemented.
Consumption and trade
Pig farming is the second most important branch of livestock husbandry in Serbia by value of production. The level of consumption of pork is very high and it ranks first with 55-60% of the total meat consumption. In 2019, the total pig meat consumption was 377 thousand tons or 54kg/person.
There is a demand for the increase of local production, however, it has difficulties with competitiveness. Despite the financial support, challenges remain in the improvement of farm management; need to increase in farm size; necessary improvement of genetics and housing for pigs; meat quality standards etc. Overall, Serbia is a net importing country of live pigs and pig meat.
|Classical Swine Fever: Serbia has been struggling with classical swine fever for years. On December 15, 2019, Serbia has stopped vaccination against Classical Swine Fever (CSF). This vaccination was a an obstacle for the export and/or transit of fresh pig meat to the EU market. The state has prepared contingency plans in the case of the outbreak but if there will be no case of CSF in the next two years, country will be declared free from CSF and consequently will be able to export/transit via the EU. For the time being, Serbia can export only thermally processed meat.|
The import of pork increased in the last couple of years. The total production of pig meat in 2018 was 344 thousand tons and an additional 56 thousand tons were imported. Imported meat is mostly used in the meat processing industry and the production of final products.
Recent developments in the pig sector in Europe resulted in the drop of prices of pork meat. This will stimulate trade flow towards Serbia, putting additional pressure on local production and pig prices. (Prices of pork in Serbia can be found here.)
|Gross domestic production||tons||344 200||325 002||320 000|
|Import - Live animal||tons||11 309||4 422||3 500|
|Export - Live animals||tons||598||537||100|
|Net domestic production||tons||344 911||328 887||323 400|
|Import of meat||tons||56 090||66 017||25 000|
|Export of meat||tons||19 688||18 041||1 000|
|Domestic consumption||tons||381 313||376 863||347 400|