Pork consumption grows in the EU

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Europe still produces 12% more pork that it consumes, according to AHDB Pork
Europe still produces 12% more pork that it consumes, according to AHDB Pork

Related tags Pork consumption United kingdom Ahdb pork Pork

The consumption of pork across the EU, particularly in the south, has increased for two years on the trot, according to new data. 

Pork consumption per capita was in decline between 2011 and 2013, but data for the last two years has revealed that consumption across the EU has grown by around a kilogram, UK levy board AHDB Pork has confirmed.

The average person in the EU consumed roughly 40.9kg of pig meat in 2015, a marginal year-on-year rise in consumption across the continent when compared to figures from 2014.

However, supplies of pork have continued to outstrip demand. Europe’s growing export sales mean its self-sufficiency rate has increased from 110% to 112%. Essentially, this means Europe is producing 12% more pork than it generally consumes. And since the Russian ban on pork, this rate is arguably “a bit too high​”, according to AHDB Pork’s market specialist manager Stephen Howarth.

However, had the Russian ban not happened, it might not have been high enough, given the strength of demand from other export markets – particularly China.​”

Decline offset by Spain

Overall pork consumption is up. But the figures from AHDB Pork highlighted falling or stagnant pork consumption in many of the 28 EU member states towards the north and west. Germany, France and the Netherlands all recorded a year-on-year decline in pork consumption.

This decline in the north and west was offset by countries in southern Europe, like Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as a rise in consumption in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Consumption of pig meat in the UK also increased marginally to 24.5kg per head. This is still the lowest consumption per capita in the EU and below the levels recorded up to 2012.

The reason pork consumption in the UK is much lower than other countries is because a “much higher proportion of our total [meat consumption] is poultry”​, added Howarth. “This reflects a mix of history and current consumer preferences. For example, we [the UK] tend to eat less of the processed and cured products which are popular on the continent (e.g. salami and other cooked/cured sausages, hams) and which are predominantly pork-based.​”

Stephen Howarth compiled the pork report and is responsible for analysing and communicating data on the global pig industry for the levy board.

He added that the rise in consumption suggested a higher volume of pork was being consumed in foodservice or as processed products, something that could be more attributed to consumers’ busy modern lifestyle.

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