January 4, 2022

 

Number of pigs on German farms drops to lowest in more than two decades

 

 

The number of pigs on German farms has fallen to the lowest in 25 years and more farmers are giving up keeping them due to weak demand and low pork prices, Germany's national statistics office said last month.


Germany's pork market has suffered this year from disruption to exports caused by African swine fever (ASF), anti-pandemic lockdowns, as well as a general trend of shifting away from meat eating, reported Reuters.


The number of pigs on German farms in November 2021 fell by 9.4% on the year to around 2.45 million animals, the agency said.


Some 18,800 German farms were involved in pig production in November, down 7.8% on the year.


"The reasons include the low demand from retailers and for export along with low pork prices," the office said.


China and other buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first case of ASF was confirmed in wild boar in east Germany near the border with Poland. German pork sales inside Europe continue.


Germany's government needs to develop a strategy to help farmers and prevent its farmers losing market share to those in other countries, Torsten Staack, chief executive officer of German pig farming association ISN, said.


"In order to understand the difficult situation among German pig farmers, it must be remembered that in the same period in other countries, for example, Spain, production has increased by the same level," he said.


Spain has taken over a large proportion of Germany's pork exports to China.


German pig prices were stable this year, currently around  €1.23/kg (US$1.39) slaughter weight, but down from €1.47/kg (US$1.66) before the first ASF case in September 2020.


ASF continues to spread among wild animals. There have been some 3,010 ASF cases in wild boars in east German states near Polish border, where wild boars from Poland have spread ASF.


- Thomas Reuters Foundation