Rules set by the European Union (EU) will prevent members from using gestation crates in EU pork production beginning Jan. 1, 2013. EU pork production groups note that production could drop by 10 percent as a result of higher production costs, as noted in a recent Bloomberg article.
According to the EU rules, member countries can only use gestation crates for short, specified periods of breeding animals’ lives. The majority of their lives must be spent in larger pens.
EU farm group estimates that farmers will pay approximately $265 more per sow to expand housing pens. With a significant increase in costs, EU farmers will be forced to decrease margins or get out of the business altogether. Tighter supply then would impact consumer pork prices.
“If European prices go up, that potentially makes European products a little less competitive on the global market,” Stephen Howarth, a senior analyst at AHDB in Stoneleigh Park, England, who specializes in the pig industry, told Bloomberg. “That, in turn, may increase demand for U.S. pork, as the other major exporter, which could of course push prices up there as well.”