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FORECOLOGA

PRODUCTION

OF

Compared

PORK
Report

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Definition and specifications of production


According to data compiled by the European Union, the number of pigs in the
Europe of the Fifteen during 2003 amounted to 122,016 thousands. In this same
year, pork meat production amounted to 17,790 thousands of tons.
The total pork production of the six countries studied amounted in 2002 to 55.6% of
the total Community production; this shows the importance of these countries
within European pork production.
Pork production 2002
(thousands of tons)

Germany, Spain, Italy,


Austria, Portugal, Sweden

44%
56%

Rest of the E.U.

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

However, if we examine these figures in more detail, great differences among


countries are revealed. This is shown in the following graph:
Pork production (thousands of tons) 2002
Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

Sweden

284

Portugal

328
511

Austria

1.536

Italy

3.123

Spain

4.123

Germany
0

500

1.000

1.500

2.000

2.500

3.000

3.500

4.000

4.500

According to the graph, Germany has the highest meat production with 4,123
thousands of tons, followed by Spain with 3,123. The countries with the lowest
production are Sweden and Portugal, with 284 and 328 thousands of tons
respectively.

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Concerning the evolution of pork meat production in member states, the tendency
is clearly stable. The following graph shows the evolution of total production in the
six countries compared in this study, from 1999 to 2002.
Evolution of total pork production 1999-2002
(thousands of tons)

10.000
8.000
6.000
4.000
2.000
0

9.656

1999

9.198

2000

9.629

2001

9.905

2002

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

General tendencies: Main lines of change


Pork meat production is regulated by market supply and demand laws, without
administrative interventions or limitation of prices. One of the major characteristics
that differentiate it from other livestock sectors is its independence from the
European Union subsidies system.
At a general level, the main lines of change in the sector are the following:

Gradual reduction in the number of small family-run farms. This tendency


is linked to an increase in competition within the sector
Creation of large fattening farms, often funded by investors without
previous experience in the pork sector.
General trend towards the increase of pigs per farm in all the countries
studied.

Perspectives of the sector in the short/medium -term


The perspectives of the sector for coming years can be summarised in an
intensification of the processes that have already begun. It is still uncertain the
extent to which the regulations on animal welfare that will be put into force at the
end of this decade will affect producers.
There will be a higher presence of information technologies within the sector,
especially in aspects related to labelling management and animal identification.
Food traceability will be improved by means of specific computer programmes and
databases.
The new social atmosphere concerning respect for the environment has also created
new concerns in consumers and social agents about the living conditions of animals
in farms.

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ECONOMIC ISSUES
Production

structure.

Importance

of

production

within

European

production
The following graph demonstrates that Germany and Spain are the main producers
of the group. Italy, given its preference for beef and veal meat, has a considerably
lower production.
Evolution of pork production
4500
4000

4123

4130

Spain

3500

2892

3000

3123

2500

Italy
Austria

2000
1500

Germany

1472

1536

520
344
325

511
328
284
2002

1000
500
0

Portugal
Sweden

1999

2000

2001

The comparatively low population of Portugal, Austria and Sweden accounts for the
low production in these countries, although their preference for beef and veal also
has an influence on this issue. The following graph shows the percentage of pork
meat and beef/veal meat production within the total agricultural production of these
countries:
Percentage of beef/veal meat and pork meat
within total agricultural production. 2002
100
80

Beef/Veal
Pork
7%
8,

3%
8,

6
,3
%

%
,5
11

1
0
,9
%

6%
5,

1
3
,9
%

%
,9
11

6
,5
%

20

40

8
%

60
%
11

0
Germany

Italy

Austria

Sweden

Portugal

Spain

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

The highest percentage for pork corresponds to Germany, with 13.9% of total
agricultural production, followed by Austria with 11.5% and Spain with 11%. The
lowest percentages for pork production can be found in Italy (5.6%), Portugal (8.3%)
and Sweden (8.7%)

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Concerning total number of animals, all six countries possessed in 2003 66.573.000
pigs, 54.5% of the total amount in the European Union. The following graph shows
the distribution of heads per country:
Pig census 2003
(thousands of heads)
1.989

Sweden
Portugal

2.344
3.305

Austria

9.166

Italy

23.518

Spain
Germany

26.251
0

5.000

10.000

15.000

20.000

25.000

30.000

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

The great amount of heads in Germany and Spain is remarkable, and both countries
together amount to 75% of the total pig census of all six countries. This proves that
pigs and pork meat play a major role in the agricultural sector of these two
countries. This fact is further confirmed by statistics concerning the number of
slaughtered animals, in which Germany and Spain are once again the leading
countries.
Number of pigs slaughtered in each country, 2002
(thousands of heads)

Sweden

3.282

Portugal

5.044

Austria

5.399

Italy

13.276

Spain

37.642

Germany

44.293
0

5.000

10.000

15.000 20.000 25.000 30.000

35.000 40.000 45.000

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

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The market. Consumer demands.


Prices are an essential element that must be taken into account when studying the
pork market. The following graph shows that price evolution has been similar in all
countries, having had a rising tendency between 2000 and 2001 (less pronounced
in Sweden than in other countries), followed by a slight fall between 2001 and 2002.
Pork prices (Euros/100 Kg.)
205
185
165
145
125
105
85
Germany
Spain
Italy
Austria
Portugal
Sweden

1999

2000

2001

2002

113
111
131
114
119
121

143
142
156
143
149
146

170
175
191
172
184
152

138
136
159
137
143
137

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

The highest prices for pork meat can be found in Italy and Portugal. The rest of the
countries presented similar prices in 2002.
According to data offered by the European Union, the consumption of pork in the six
countries studied amounted to an average of 48.6% kg per inhabitant in the period
2001-2002. Spain presents the highest consumption (65.4 kg per inhabitant),
followed by Austria (56.4 kg) and Germany. Countries like Italy or Sweden are far
from these figures; their preference for beef and veal meat accounts for the low
consumption of pork.

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Pork consumption (Kg per inhabitant)
34,7

Sweden

37,9

Italy

43,6

Portugal

54,1

Germany
Austria

56,4

Spain

65,4
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Source: European Commision (Eurostat). 2003.

Meat consumers are currently giving a higher value to safe meats whose production
and processing (in the case of meat products) is guaranteed. At a general level,
both pork consumption and pork prices experienced a sudden upward trend during
the mad cows crisis.
Consumption of meat during this crisis turned mainly towards pork meat. This
phenomenon has gradually disappeared with the recovery of consumers confidence
in beef and veal, and nowadays the percentages of consumption are stable in all
countries.
STRUCTURAL ISSUES
Farming business: situation of small and medium-sized companies, size of
the companies, presence of co-operative companies, productivity
Most of the pig farms are small or medium-sized farms, whose number of heads
ranges between 1 and 10. Only Germany presents an exception to this, with an
average amount of 10 to 49 pigs per farm. Within each country, the geographical
situation is relevant concerning productivity level and size of the farms.
Co-operative companies created by associations play an important role in this very
competitive sector, especially for the commercialisation of pigs. These
organisations possess specific lines and cooperation agreements that give pig
farmers a certain strength when negotiating prices. This aspect has had a vital
importance for the sector in recent years, since, as we have just seen, there is a
downward trend for prices.
Main tendencies in the evolution of pig farms
The harsh competition in this sector is causing a descent in the number of smaller
farms, parallel to an increase in the size of larger farms that entails a higher number
of pigs per farm. This means that there is a tendency towards corporate
concentration.
In Spain, corporate concentration is mainly effected by integrating companies
(companies that carry out managing tasks for several small and middle-sized farms,
creating an integrated production unit).

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Perspectives of pig farms in the national and European levels


Pig farms will have to improve their premises due to the new regulations on animal
welfare. This will bring about an increase in farm costs; farmers will have to seek
profitability through the fattening of pigs rather than by increasing the number of
heads, since animal welfare is inversely proportional to the number of pigs per farm.
Pork producers will also have to keep up with consumers demands, maintaining
good prices while they offer quality products and seeking new marketing
presentations for pork.
According to experts in the sector, the survival of many small family-run farms can
be seriously threatened.
LABOUR ISSUES
Average profile of producers by gender, age, qualification level, type of
contract
The average pig farmers are men aged over 50. They are usually the owners and
managers of their farms, although there is a growing tendency to substitute this
profile by farm managers who run the farms but are not their owners.
Family labour is declining in this sector, although in some countries, like Italy, there
are more family workers than external workers. This kind of labour exists in small
farms, and its predominance diminishes as farm size increases.
In all countries studied there is a shortage of labour force in the sector. This
situation has been partially solved by means of immigrant workers, who are usually
little or no qualified for this type of work.
Workers of the sector usually have long-term contracts, since pig farms involve a
series of tasks that are maintained throughout the year.
The introduction of new technologies in pig farms has brought about a decrease in
the labour force needed, parallel to a demand for more qualified staff.
PRODUCTION PROCESSES AND MAIN TECHNIQUES
Main production processes
There are two main breeding systems: extensive and intensive breeding
The extensive system can be defined by the following characteristics:
-

Limited number of pigs per hectare


Low productivity per hectare and per pig
Environmental sustainability
Animal welfare
Animals are kept in open spaces

The intensive system can be defined by:


-

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High number of pigs per hectare


High productivity
Strong environmental impact

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High energy consumption

Main professional profiles and specific techniques

In medium-size or large farms with 4 or more workers there are different


professional profiles, depending on which particular phase of the productive process
each worker is involved with:
Breeding operators. Their main tasks are the diagnosis of the best moment
for insemination during breeding season, and the implementation of artificial
insemination if needed. During sow pregnancy they are in charge of minimising the
risk of miscarriages, and they must also assist sows when giving birth.

Pork attendants. They must look after the animals, ensuring the survival of
piglets and providing extra care to weak animals that might die before starting the
fattening process

Maintenance and feeding operators. They provide pigs with optimal


amounts of food, in order to achieve the maximum possible weight in six months
(length of the fattening process). They must also ensure good habitability conditions
so as to maximise fattening.

Other professional profiles linked to the sector are butchers and other members of
the staff in meat processing companies.
New technologies: main changes and modernisation trends, generalisation
of new information technologies.
The pork sector is an extremely innovative sector concerning technology, and
therefore production processes are highly automated. This is due to the following
fact: since the biological cycle of pigs is very short, any change in the physical
conditions where pigs develop their life cycle could influence directly final
production.
Nowadays, modernisation trends are directed to a general improvement of
infrastructures concerning ventilation and conditioning of premises, in order to
control humidity and temperature. Heating and air-conditioning systems are
increasingly used in order to minimise temperature changes that can stress the
animals and therefore decrease their feeding rhythm.
Another new tendency is the introduction of new information technologies in farms.
The need for traceability requires databases for the identification of piglets and
sows, the recording of the sows breeding histories (number of births), foodstuff
consumption, etc. These techniques are also useful to determine when a sow must
be replaced (that is, when its profitability via reproduction is lower that its feeding
costs)
TRAINING ISSUES
Training subsystems in the sector
The training offer for the pork sector is included within vocational training for
livestock breeding. The structure of the cycles varies depending on each countrys
educational system, and there is also a wide range of institutions in charge of
offering this kind of training. Some countries show a tendency towards the

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improvement of the operators educational level; in general, vocational training is


offering a higher level of specialisation in order to support sustainability of the
sector.
However, livestock breeders receive training mainly through daily work. This means
that they are generally well trained in the planning and management of the daily
tasks required by the production process.
Formative gaps in the pork sector
Once the characteristics of formal training are established, we will comment on the
main formative gaps detected on this sector by several experts.
The fact that most livestock breeders learn their profession through experience
leads to a great emphasis in the most technical aspects, leaving aside other global
aspects concerning legislation, business and marketing of the sector.
New operators of the sector often lack the most basic skills or knowledge about the
productive processes. Therefore, there is a need of training and updating courses on
basic production processes.
There are some tasks related to animal health that can be implemented by
operators (like administration of vaccines through injections, for instance). Many
workers are not prepared to undertake these tasks, so that external veterinarian
professionals must be hired with an extra cost.
Pork sector workers should also possess some knowledge about quality products
management and food safety, given the growing demand for wholesome products.
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Environment
The environmental impact of pork breeding is determined by the kind of exploitation
and the way it is managed. Intensive pig farms can become a degrading factor, due
to the following effects:
Air pollution due to gases generated by the fermentation of excrements
Filtering of liquid manure into the soil. Many intensive fattening farms lack
adequate dumping sites for the disposal of manure, a situation that may lead to
uncontrolled dumping or spilling in neighbouring fields, ditches or cesspits. These
practices can cause underground water pollution.

All countries have environmental legislation on this subject in order to control


animal feeding, disposal of waste substances, water analysis, etc.
Food safety

In recent years, consumers have adopted a new attitude of awareness towards


many aspects of livestock breeding and food in general. Nowadays, the society has
a growing demand for safe products obtained with environmentally friendly
techniques, and better life conditions for livestock in intensive farms or while being
carried. These demands have reached Community institutions, and so a series of
regulations have been developed concerning animal welfare and traceability.

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The successive crises that have happened in recent years (bovine spongiform
encephalopaty and aphta disease) have lead to the implementation of systems that
ensure greater food safety.
The identification and register system for pigs currently in force, which is the basis
of traceability in the sector, was first developed in Council Directive 92/102/CEE
(together with regulations for cattle, sheep and goats). A second Directive
concerning health policies in the pig and cattle sectors was issued in 1997 (Council
Directive 97/12/CEE). These regulations, compulsory for all European countries, can
be summarised as follows:
All animals must be identified as soon as possible and, in any case, before
leaving their farm of origin by means of an ear tag or tattoo designating its
farm of origin.

All farms must keep a register to record all entries and sales of pigs (by lots),
identifying the date and the origin or destiny of all pigs bought or sold.

Each country must maintain a national database where data from all farm
registers is stored. These databases contain information on all the pig farms
concerning: owner, localization, productive level, health status, vaccines, etc. They
must also contain information on all commercial movements: number of animals
transferred, identification of farms of origin and destiny, dates, etc.

SUSTAINABILITY, ORGANIC PRODUCTION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT


OF RURAL AREAS
Role of organic farming in a sustainable environment

The pork sector gathers several positive conditions that give it a high potential for
organic production and for the revitalisation of rural areas (probably the highest
potential of all livestock activities). Experience has shown that this productive
activity can revitalise local and regional economies, and that it helps avoiding the
transfer of population to urban centres.
Importance of organic production
The pork sector can be easily adapted to organic production, especially being
extensive production of pure (that is, local) breeds. Extensive breeding of pigs
avoids the excessive stabling and density of animals.
Nevertheless, these requirements (low density and open space) are very difficult to
comply with for intensive breeding farms, which predominate in the countries
studied. This fact, together with the high profitability of intensive farms, and the
difficulty of implementing extensive breeding in some countries due to adverse
climatic conditions, are hindering organic production within the pork sector.
Experiences of organic production within the sector
All organic livestock farms must be based on an extensive (or at least semiextensive) production system. For this reason, there are comparatively few organic
pork production initiatives in the countries studied.
Some breeds, like Iberian pigs in Spain, are hardy enough to spend their lives in
herds that live in open spaces, preferably among holm oaks. These breeds are well
adapted to harsh climates and environments.
Iberian pigs, as well as other indigenous breeds originated in the countries studied,
can be the basis of organic pig farms, since they can be developed using resources
offered by the surrounding lands (grass, acorns, etc). These extensive farms are

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also apt for the rotation of livestock, which helps avoid overexploitation of resources
and eliminates the concentration of manures.
According to all the experts consulted, organic pork products can give added quality
and food safety values to consumers, something that can improve the position of
these products in the market.

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