No siesta for rising Spanish pork exports

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Spain looks set to become increasingly important to the European pig market
Spain looks set to become increasingly important to the European pig market

Related tags European union Europe Pork

Exports of pig meat in Spain have risen by 17% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2015, according to research published by UK body AHDB Pork.

In what has been a great year for Spanish pork, exports have grown consistently and have reached 890,800 tonnes (t) so far, setting another record for the industry, according to AHDB Pork.

The increase in the total value of exports of Spanish pork is up by 6% to €1.95bn, when compared to 2014.

Trade within the EU increased by 13% between January and September and France, the largest market, recorded an increase of 7% with products going on for further processing.

High demand

The strong growth for the pig industry in Spain can also be credited to the unexpectedly high demand for pork meat in smaller European markets like Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. Here, Spain recorded a rise of between 40-50% in the aforementioned eastern EU states.

The reason Spain recorded such a large increase in its pork exports to Bulgaria and Romania can be linked to both countries becoming more integrated with the EU.

“Consumption is definitely rising as Bulgaria and Romania become more integrated into the EU and, as a result of this, consumption is growing ahead of domestic production,”​ AHDB Pork analyst Stephen Howarth said.

Biggest herd

Spain has been quietly and productively improving its pig industry and now has the biggest pig breeding herd in Europe, according to Howarth.

Pigs are owned by the same companies responsible for their slaughter and this vertical integration model keeps production costs among the lowest in Europe.

As a result Spain “are an important player in Europe and will become increasingly important to the pig market, despite being a long way behind the big boys like Denmark and Germany”,​ added Howarth.

Trade remained strong

Outside of the EU, trade remained strong. Usual suspect China recorded a two-third increase in volumes of Spanish pork when compared to the first nine months of 2014; South Korea recorded a 32.2% increase in pork.

In contrast, exports of pig meat to Japan fell by 9% as the country looks to boost domestic production with an obvious impact to import demand.

Thanks to another strong year for Spanish pork Howarth noted that he “wouldn’t be surprised”​ if Spain eventually became one Europe’s leading pork exporters.

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