Polish Pork producers feeling ASF strain
PR dla Zagranicy
Though only a small number of African swine fever cases have been recorded so far in Poland, the presence of the virus is already affecting the country’s meat industry.
Data from the Central Statistical Office show that pork exports from Poland have declined by 17 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2014 alone. This can be largely attributed to export bans linked with the presence of the ASF virus.
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan were the first countries to impose an embargo on pork from all EU countries in late January this year. Less than a month later, Asian markets also placed a ban on Polish pork imports.
More recently, Ukraine again closed its market to Polish pork products after reopening its doors less than a month ago.
Both Russia and China were major export markets for Polish pork before the bans were imposed. Meat worth some 190 million euro had been sold to each of these countries in 2013. Even if Poland manages to battle the virus, it will only be able to resume exports a year later.
Export restrictions have an additional effect on the Polish pork meat production sector. Prices offered to farmers have sharply declined, by as much as 40 percent, as the volume of unsold meat held in storage areas grows.
Witold Choinski, from sector organisation Polish Meat, told Gazeta Wyborcza that the situation will not be contained if the virus does not spread further.
“EU markets are still open for us and we are increasing our export there,” he said. “Even so, if veterinary services do not manage to stop the spreading of the disease, even EU markets will close.”
“This would be a tragedy for the whole meat industry.” (kw/jb)