Spain now has the largest pig herd in Europe and a pork export trade which continues to grow strongly, according to a new country analysis by AHDB Pork.
Based on the latest census figures, Spanish sow numbers increased by 5% in 2015 while total herd numbers rose by 7%. That puts the country’s sow herd at 2.45 million head and total numbers at 28.4 million head.
Spain also has one of the lowest costs of production of all EU member states, working out at €1.49 per kg (£1.26/kg) in 2014, partly due to the country’s lower building and labour costs compared to other parts of the EU.
The AHDB Pork analysis also suggests that pig industry growth in Spain is set to continue, commenting that output is forecast to continue to increase throughout 2016 as a result of the internationalisation procedures undertaken by the pig industry, coupled with the backing of the Spanish government to support increasing global demand for Spanish pork.
“During 2015, Spain produced 3.9 million tonnes of pigmeat and looks set to overtake this in 2016,” said AHDB Pork, adding that the country had already produced 1.8 million tonnes in the first five months of the year.
“That is over 100,000 tonnes more than by the same point in 2015, with volumes now more than double those of the early 1990’s. This highlights the growth the pig industry has been though in the past two decades.”
As for exports, significant recent effort by Spain’s Interporc organisation and the country’s Pork Producers Association, has been directed towards the Asian markets, a focus which has certainly “proved successful”.
“Export growth has been steady for over a decade,” said AHDB Pork. “Since the turn of the year, however, there has been a surge in shipments to China, which took more pork from Spain in May and June this year than from anywhere else.
“In addition, Spain recently signed a trade deal with Mexico, which is a significant importer of pork. While Mexico currently sources the majority of its pork from the United States and Canada, this trade agreement opens up another, potentially very lucrative, market.
“Spain has also shown great success in developing and diversifying its export trade. The volume of fresh/frozen pork exports in May 2016 was almost one and a half times that of a year earlier and shows no signs of slowing.
“Currently the third largest global exporter of pork, behind Germany and the United States, the Spanish pig industry sold 1.23 million tonnes to 126 countries in 2015, generating an export turnover of more than €2.6 billion (£2.2bn). With the pork industry being the main contributor to the commercial surplus created by the Spanish food and agricultural sector, the focus for the future remains on growth.”