GERMANY, Hamburg. German meat industry associations warned of the impact of declining livestock numbers of pigs and cattle at their annual conference. Legislative reforms, African Swine Fever and declining meat consumption were posing a threat to domestic production.
According to the trade associations representing the German meat processing and manufacturing industry (Verband der Fleischwirtschaft (VDF) and Bundesverband Deutscher Wurst- und Schinkenproduzenten (BVWS)), declining pig numbers, in particular, were also a result of the current government's agricultural policy. Therefore lower numbers of pigs were available for slaughter necessitating adjustments to the capacity for slaughterhouses. At the same time, all stages of the marketing chain are experiencing economic burdens due to the energy crisis and increasing labour and commodity costs.
Slaughter and processing companies were deeply concerned about the foreseeable consequences of various national legislative regulations currently being discussed in Germany, both organisations stated, calling the current government's "solo" efforts a hindrance to accessing the European market with substantial implications for the industry.
VDF and BVWS also reported that the industry was struggling due to declining numbers in meat consumption that could only partially be explained by a temporary restraint due to food price inflation. In the past year alone, per capita meat consumption decreased by an average of 4.2 kg to 52.0 kg, with pork consumption dropping by around 10 kg to 29.0 kg over the past decade. The "massive negative coverage of the alleged harmful effects of meat production on the environment, particularly greenhouse gas emissions," also contributes to this, the industry associations pointed out.
In 2022, exports proved to be challenging for the German meat industry. The export volume of meat and meat products decreased by 6.2% to 3.3 million tonnes compared to the previous year. However, the price development led to a 16.7% increase in revenue to nearly 10 billion euros. Due to supply challenges caused by African Swine Fever (ASF) and existing import bans, third-country pork exports declined by one-third, following a halving in the previous year.
According to the VDF and BVWS, the future development of German meat exports depends on effective measures for ASF control and, in particular, successful regionalisation agreements with third countries. These agreements must be pursued with determination by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, with the VDF willing to assist in achieving market openings, the association stated.