Pork production in Czechia threatened by rising costs

Czechs consume over 84kg of meat per person per year on average, over half of which is pork, according to data from the Czech Statistics Office. However, last year alone, the number of pigs on Czech farms fell by around ten thousand. Farmers blame rising prices of energy, fuel, and fertilisers, and warn that if the government doesn’t step in to help, Czech pork may slowly disappear from the market.

It’s not only fuel and energy prices that are rising – some food staples are also getting more expensive. For example, in March, the price of flour and butter rose by more than 30% year-on-year. But most worrying for Czech farmers and butchers is that meat production has also been badly affected by rising prices. Especially concerning for Czechs is the rising price of pork. They consume around 43kg of it a year per capita according to Czech Statistics Office data - more than any other type of meat.

Czech Television reported that on the family-run Václavice farm near Liberec, the cost of producing a kilogram of pork comes out to more than they are able to sell it for. The owner of the farm, Štěpán Brodský, said that the problem has been going on for many years, worsened during the Covid crisis and has intensified even further now due to the war in Ukraine. He is convinced that if the government doesn’t help out, Czech pig farming will continue to decline.

“Realistically speaking, we lose about a thousand crowns on every pig we produce, and still we are not able to sell it on the Czech market.”

Illustrative photo: Jai79,  Pixabay,  CC0 1.0 DEED

He complains that he cannot even sell his products in the Czech Republic, and is therefore forced to export to Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary.

Robert Erlebach, Chairman of the Regional Agrarian Council of the Liberec Region, thinks that domestic farmers need to be supported so that stocks don’t decline. Speaking to Czech Television, he warns of the consequences if they are not.

“Otherwise it’s a matter of two or three years before Czech pork is not even available any longer.”

As a result of the rising cost of producing meat, Czech butchers are having to deal with fluctuating prices, shortages of certain types of meat, and a decline in consumer interest. Sales from Czech butchers reportedly fell by as much as a fifth in recent months.

Jaroslav Slavík, the owner of a butcher’s shop in the town of Hořice in the Hradec Králové Region of the country, said to Czech Television that in his twenty years of being in business, he hasn’t seen such a large price increase in such a short period of time.

“It all started with beef. All of a sudden there was a shortage of beef and it became more expensive by tens of crowns, perhaps as much as forty. Chicken is the biggest problem at the moment. If you want chicken, you have to order it two or three days in advance.”

Retailers say that customers are seeking out discounts or buying cheaper products in an effort to save money, and there have also been reports of people bypassing the supply chain altogether and buying meat directly from farmers, sometimes in quantities as large as half an entire pig. Others, Czech Television reported, are even going so far as to produce their own meat at home.