Experts have warned that consumption of domestically produced pork is already extremely low and could fall to zero if local prices continue to rise.
“The catering sector is already not using Estonian pork. 98% of cafés, restaurants and supermarkets are buying imported meat from Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the UK and Spain,” said Martiros Pogosyan, the owner of local pork production firm Ani šašlõkibaar.
“The price of meat imported from these countries ranges from €3.50/kg to €6/kg, while the cost of local pork starts from €5.50-€6/kg.”
According to official estimates, the average price of Estonian pork is actually €7.50/kg, which is almost one-and-a-half times more than the average European values. This means that, currently, most pork is exported to countries such as Russia.
“More than 50% of Estonian pork – 15,500 tonnes per year – traditionally goes to Russia, while the rest is exported to Lithuania and Poland. Estonian pork is not for the rich, but it is certainly not for the Estonians”, said the chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture, Aavo Meldere.
“The main reason behind this situation lies in the unequal conditions of competition. The aids for agricultural enterprises in Estonia are the lowest in the whole EU, so that even Finland, Denmark and Ireland can sell their pork at lower prices.”
The EU directive on improving the conditions of pregnant sows, which will come into force on 1 January, 2013, is expected to result in an additional increase in the price of pork in Estonia by 15-20%.
Manufacturers say that they are also concerned about constant price hikes of electricity, feed and fuel. With these costs set to rise dramatically next year, producers are afraid that even the richest importers, such as Russia, will abandon Estonian pork imports.