Irish pig farmers remain confident that prices will gravitate back towards the €2/kg in Europe before the coronavirus hit, despite huge disruption caused by Covid-19 infections among workers in German slaughterhouses.
There was no change in Irish pig prices this week, with farmers receiving €1.64-1.68c/kg, according to IFA.
However, Europe’s biggest pork slaughterhouse is closed since June 19, after more than 1,500 of its workers tested positive for Covid-19.
The Tönnies plant in north-western Germany processed over seven million pigs annually, including 60,000 per week from Belgium and the Netherlands, and up to 50% of cull sows slaughtered in Ireland are sent to this factory for processing into products such as frankfurters and salami.
There are various knock-on implications. China has banned pork imports from Tönnies, Germany’s biggest meat company (China has stopped imports from an estimated 36 plants globally, including the Rosderra Irish Meats Group Ltd).
German authorities have announced mass testing of all meat workers.
Plant shutdowns which would be necessary, if Covid-19 clusters in meat processing are detected, could heavily impact markets.
The German Government will also enforce higher labour standards, which may reduce competitiveness of the German livestock industry.