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MARKET ▶▶▶


Pigs flock to the Spanish sun


Pig farming in the Netherlands and Germany is declining due to a combination of environmental and animal welfare rules and an ageing farming population. Spain is gladly taking up the production slack.


BY KEES VAN DOOREN, SENIOR REPORTER, BOERDERIJ W


hile pig production is shrinking in the Nether- lands and Germany, it is booming in Spain. Rabobank’s latest quarterly update states that Spain produced 9% more pork in 2020 than in


the previous year. That isn’t a new development. In recent years, Spain has rapidly been rebuilding all the pig places that have disappeared in Northern and Western Europe, and even more than that. EU figures show that the Spanish pig sector has grown continuously in recent years (see Table 1).


Accelerated pig production growth The growth has accelerated rapidly since 2019, both in terms of production and particularly the export of pork. Spain ex- ported more than 1.9 million tonnes of pork and by-products


in 2020. In 2018, the export volume was 870,000 tonnes. Of the total EU exports of pork to third countries in 2020, 35% came from Spain. A real boost for the Spanish pig sector was the construction of a mega slaughterhouse by the Italian meat company Pini. Under the name Litera meat, Pini opened a slaughterhouse in Binéfar in 2019 that has capacity to process 160,000 pigs


Table 1 – Spain has been showing a strong growth of the number of pigs held in Europe. Development of the pig inventory in Europe, × 1 million pigs.


Total number of pigs 2015 2019 2020 2025


Total amount of sows > 50 kg 2015 2019 2020 2025


EU-28 148.70 147.90 147.50 144.50


EU-28 12.29 11.89 11.77 11.43


EU-27 144.29 143.15 142.84 139.2


EU-27 11.81 11.40 11.27 10.88


Source: Eurostat/European Commission, 2025 estimates of IFIP. 6 ▶ PIG PROGRESS | Volume 37, No. 7, 2021


Denmark 12.70 12.73 12.50 12.40


Denmark 1.24 1.24 1.27 1.22


Germany 27.65 26.05 25.99 23.00


Germany 1.97 1.79 1.69 1.54


Spain 28.37 31.25 32.30 34.00


Spain 2.47 2.58 2.58 2.74


France 13.31 13.51 13.40 12.55


France 1.01 1.06 1.05 0.94


Netherlands 12.45 11.92 11.50 10.60


Netherlands 1.05 1.05 0.93 0.82


PHOTO: RONALD HISSINK


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