Germany slaughters 7% fewer pigs in 2023

15-02 | |
Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

43.8 million pigs were slaughtered in Germany last year. This is 3.3 million or 7% less than in 2022, according to the latest figures of the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

Of those, 42.3 million animals were raised at pig farms in Germany itself, a decrease of 7.7% y-o-y, while the number of imported slaughter pigs increased by 19.5% to 1.5 million units. The vast majority of those, 960,000 animals, came from the Netherlands while the import of slaughter pigs from Belgium more than doubled to 370,000.

Pork production Germany

The production of pork in Germany last year amounted to 4.2 million tons, 6.8% or 306.500 tons less than in the previous year and the lowest figure in over 20 years. Compared to the record year 2016, the quantity of pork produced is now 1.4 million tons less, a decline of just over a quarter. The sharp decline has much to do with the steady reduction of the number of pigs in the country, although recently there are some signs of a slight recovery, reports from the statistical office show.

Total number of pigs in Germany

At the beginning of November 2023, the most recent figures available, the total number of pigs in Germany was 21.2 million. That was 150.600 animals or 0.7% less than a year earlier and even 2.5 million pigs or 10,7% less than in November 2021. However, the number for November last year was 1.3% or 266.000 higher than in May 2023 when the statistics office published its 1st agricultural report for 2023. That was the 1st half-year increase in the German pig population since November 2020.

Breeding sows

The number of breeding sows remained more or less stable between May 2023 and last November at 1.4 million animals. There are, however, significant regional differences. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the large state in the west of the country bordering Belgium and the Netherlands, in the 2nd half of last year the number of breeding sows increased by 6.4% while Bavaria in the south showed a decline of 4.9%. An explanation can be that pig holders in the various states react differently to the stricter regulations for keeping of sows in crates, Destatis said.

Almost constant decrease of pork consumption

The German pig industry has also to deal with an almost constant decrease of pork consumption, and the famous sausages. Although the sales of meat in general last year were almost at the same level as in 2022, the sales of pork in the groceries channels was 6.6% down, continuing a downwards trend that started over ten years ago. Germans now buy and eat on average 27.4 kg of pork per head per year while that figure was 38.6 kg per capita per year in 2013.

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Ruud Peijs International Journalist