German farmers give up pig keeping as prices and demand low

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The number of pigs on German farms has fallen to the lowest in 25 years and more farmers are giving up keeping them because of weak demand and low pork prices, Germany’s national statistics office said.

Germany’s pork market has suffered this year from disruption to exports caused by the pig disease African swine fever (ASF), anti-pandemic lockdowns, plus a general trend away from meat eating.

The number of pigs on German farms in November 2021 fell by 9.4% on the year to around 2.45 million animals, the agency said.

Some 18,800 German farms were involved in pig production in November, down 7.8% on the year.

“The reasons include the low demand from retailers and for export along with low pork prices,” the office said.

China and other buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first case of ASF was confirmed in wild boar in east Germany near the border with Poland. German pork sales inside Europe continue.

Germany’s government needs to develop a strategy to help farmers and prevent its farmers losing market share to those in other countries, Torsten Staack, CEO of German pig farming association ISN, said.

“In order to understand the difficult situation among German pig farmers, it must be remembered that in the same period in other countries, for example Spain, production has increased by the same level,” he said.

Spain has taken over a large proportion of Germany’s pork exports to China. read more

German pig prices were stable this year, currently around 1.23 euros a kg slaughter weight, but down from 1.47 euros a kg before the first ASF case in September 2020.

ASF continues to spread among wild animals. There have been some 3,010 ASF cases in wild boars in east German states near Polish border, where wild boars from Poland have spread ASF.

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