German pig prices fall after abattoir closes due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Pigs wait to be slaughtered in their enclosure in the Hasenheide slaughterhouse in Fuerstenfeldbruck

HAMBURG (Reuters) - German pig prices have fallen sharply as a huge German abattoir remains closed after a coronavirus outbreak, forcing farmers to sell animals ready to be slaughtered at low prices, an association said on Friday.

The Toennies slaughterhouse and meat packing plant has been closed for three weeks after over 1,500 workers tested positive for COVID-19. This caused a lockdown for 600,000 people in the surrounding Guetersloh region which was lifted this week.

The Toennies plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck in North Rhine-Westphalia normally slaughters and processes between 12% to 14% of Germany's pigs.

But the plant's closure means farmers must accept lower prices from abattoirs for animals which are mature and ready to be slaughtered, the association of German pig farmers said.

German pig prices fell to around 1.47 euros a kilo this week from 1.60 euros a kilo last week and 1.66 euros a kilo three weeks ago as the Toennies slaughterhouse closed, the association said.

The association called on the Toennies plant to be reopened as soon as possible.

"The pressure is increasing every day and the prices for slaughterhouse pigs are in free fall," the association said.

Pig farmers are the main victims of the closure and the slaughterhouse should be reopened with a suitable health and safety scheme for its workers, it said.

The Guetersloh local government is still in negotiations about a hygiene plan with the plant, which has provisionally been ordered to close until July 17.

(Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by David Evans)

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