Five countries with pig potential

05-12-2014 | |
Five countries with pig potential

Much agricultural research and development takes place in saturated markets. Market potential, however, can often be found where there is relatively few rules, plenty of space and/or a lot of demand for pork.

In this respect, Pig Progress took a closer look to the five countries constituting the traditional ‘BRICS’ – an acronym for the five major emerging economies, i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

It is remarkable to see that each of these countries has a different story to tell when focussing in on its pig production. Each has its own problems, its strengths and its weaknesses. What are the challenges that makes each country interesting?

India: Pork per capita

There are more than 1.2 billion reasons to think India offers great opportunities for pig production in the future. The number refers to population – the country is second-largest in the world. Unfortunately, for a diversity of reasons, there isn’t a strong tradition of pig production or consumption in the country.

Recent figures by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that in the whole of India in 2013, there were roughly 9.3 million pigs – or only 1 pig per 136 inhabitants. This translates into a very low per capita pork consumption, about 0.21 kg/year.

It requires some pioneering, but there is a world to win for India.

Read also: Even a small rise would make a huge difference

South Africa: Pig numbers

To exactly indicate the current size of South Africa’s pork industry, Dr Pieter Grimbeek stated in his analysis that the whole of South Africa’s pork consumption is about half of what is needed in São Paulo, Brazil.

Still, there is a tradition of pork consumption, albeit moderate, with 5.2 kg per capita in 2013, according to FAO figures. Despite some industry, the country closes the BRICS ranks with regard to its pig inventory. A rough estimate by the FAO tells that the country houses 1.6 million pigs – not all of them being commercially held ones either.

There’s plenty of growth potential in South Africa, and the vicinity of yet-to-be-developed markets in southern Africa also makes it a country with a lot of potential.

Read also: South Africa: Challenges in an isolated industry

Russia: Politics

With the entire world looking at its international policy towards Ukraine, Russia has become a little bit isolated. The country is now feeling the effects of an international boycott and it remains to be seen if attempts to speed up the development of the Russian industry will also lead to the expected outcome envisaged.

It is a pity though – the country has a very strong demand to pork with over 20 kg/capita consumed per year, and being the largest country in the world, currently there’s only just over 1 pig per km2 on average in the whole of Russia.

On the longer term, for the international pork business as well as for its population, it would help if the international tensions were off the table.

Read also: Russian industry profiting from sanctions – for now and Miratorg present in every step of pork production

China: Most of everything

By far most pigs, most pigs slaughtered per year, most pork consumed per capita, most pork produced, most people, highest pig density – virtually all matrices I can think of end up being a victory for China.

With its staggering 482 million pig population (FAO, 2013) and an average of 50.2 pigs per km2, however, the downside of the vast numbers is not difficult to think of. Is there any room for structural improvement? Isn’t the country too vulnerable to disease outbreaks? Where does the country wish to import its feed from?

Read also: Why producing in China is a big challenge and Safe food is key for Chinese meat giant Shuanghui

Brazil: Best overall outlook

Brazil has the best overall figures for future growth of the BRICS countries. Just imagine – the country is almost as large as China in surface (9.6 million km2 vs 8.5 million km2), but Brazil has almost seven times as few people. For the Chinese, Brazil must look extremely empty.

Still, Brazil has a relatively well-developed pig industry, the tradition of production and a growing tradition of consumption – and has a fixed second place with regard to pig inventory, almost 40 million pigs in 2013, according to FAO figures.

No pioneering necessary here – but plenty of options available, especially for exports.

Read also: PED virus could bring Brazil smiles or sadness

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ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world