LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg. With significant increases in slaughterings and meat production, Spain continues the success story of recent years.
Slightly more pigs were cut in the European Union's reportable slaughterhouses last year than in 2019. According to preliminary data from the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), the number of pigs slaughtered increased by about 640,000 head, or 0.3%, to 243.29 mill. animals. This data is based on reports from 25 member states; information from the smaller producing countries Bulgaria and Greece is still missing. Because pigs were delivered to slaughterhouses about one kilogram heavier, meat production went up 1.3% to 22.90 mill. t, more than the number of animals processed.
According to the statisticians from Luxembourg, the volume of slaughtered animals developed very differently in the individual EU countries. Spain, for example, showed by far the largest increase with a rise of 3.48 million head or 6.6% to 56.46 million pigs. This means that the Iberians have overtaken Germany not only in terms of pig numbers, but also for the first time in terms of slaughterings, as the volume in this country fell by 3.5% to 53.21 million head. Only in terms of pork production was Germany slightly ahead with 5.10 mill. t due to its heavier animals. This was despite the fact that meat production in Spain grew at an unprecedented rate of 8.2% to 5.02 mill. t.
According to Eurostat, Belgium also recorded above-average growth of 4% to 11.15 million pigs on the hook. This is probably related to the temporary interruption in the sale of slaughter pigs to Germany during periods of corona-related plant closures. Danish meat producers also had more to do, as deliveries of ready-to-slaughter animals increased by 2.6% compared to 2019 to 17.28 million head; the higher slaughter weights even caused meat production in Denmark to rise by 6.5%. Partially disrupted live exports to Germany likely played a role here as well.
In addition to Germany, pig slaughterings in the Netherlands in 2020 were also below the previous year's level, falling by 2.2% to 20.87 million head. The drop was even greater in Italy, at 7.6% to 10.61 million pigs, with Corona consequences hampering imports of piglets and slaughter pigs. Fewer pigs overall were also delivered to French and Polish slaughterhouses, but higher slaughter weights in both countries ensured fairly stable pork production compared with the previous year. This was not the case in Portugal and Romania, where production fell by 2.2% and 3.2% respectively.