GERMANY, Wiesbaden. Due to a lack of slaughtering capacities, less pork is produced in Germany. The forecasts for 2021 are even gloomier.
Not only at present, but already in the summer months there has been a significant decline in the number of pig slaughters in Germany. According to the current slaughtering statistics of the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 4.33 million pigs were hooked in August; that was around 259,000 head or 5.6% less than in the same month last year. In July, when the Tönnies plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück was completely closed until the middle of the month, the number of animals slaughtered had actually decreased by almost 312,000 animals or 6.8% compared to the previous year.
May also saw a sharp decline with a minus of 315,000 pigs or 7%; at that time, some slaughterhouses were out of operation due to corona infections among employees. Pork production fell somewhat less sharply due to the higher slaughter weights. According to the Wiesbaden statisticians, 35.44 million pigs were cut up in German slaughterhouses between January and August; this was almost 1 million animals or 2.8% less than in the first eight months of 2019. During the same period, pork production fell by two percent to 3.38 million t.
In view of the currently limited slaughtering and cutting capacities due to corona hygiene requirements and the lack of employees, further significant production losses are expected for the rest of the year, which could amount to up to five percent of pork production for the year as a whole compared with 2019. In a current forecast, Agrarmarkt Informations-GmbH (AMI) even considers a further slump of 10% or more possible for the coming year. The expected structural change in piglet production following the ban on anaesthetic-free piglet castration, the lack of exports to third country markets due to African swine fever (ASF), below-average producer prices, personnel problems in meat farms following the new health and safety legislation and, last but not least, the declining pork consumption in Germany should contribute to this.
Another factor that plays a role in the declining supply of pigs in Germany is that fewer and fewer animals for slaughter and, most recently, piglets are being imported from abroad. According to Destatis, only 1.78 million pigs from other countries of the European Union were slaughtered in Germany between January and August 2020; this was around 513,400 head or 22.4% less than in the same period last year. At the end of the year, the lowest level since 2003 is likely to be reached.
Even more than the slaughtering of pigs, deliveries of cattle to slaughterhouses declined in the first eight months of 2020. According to the Wiesbaden statisticians, the volume of cattle slaughtered fell by 88,800 animals or 4.1% to just under 2.1 million cattle compared to the same period of the previous year. Due to higher weights on the hook, however, beef production fell by only 2.7% to 697,060 t. In particular, farmers delivered fewer cows to the slaughterhouse; the relevant number of cows fell most significantly by 6.8% to 709,600 animals. Calves fell by 4.4% to 214,100 head, while heifers fell by 2.9% to 363,850 head. The smallest decrease of 2% to 809,800 slaughtered animals was recorded for bulls and steers.