On-the-Ground Updates

Portugal: exports drive expansion of the pork sector

Frozen Pork Ham & Shoulder
Market & Price Trends
Innovation & Technology
Ricardo Lopes
Published Nov 6, 2020
Portugal continues to expand its pork sector driven by the increase in external demand, mainly from Asia. Portuguese exports of live pigs to Spain increased due to the scant supply of Spanish pigs.

According to Eurostat, in 2020, the initial stock of pigs in Portugal increased by 0.5% compared to last year. In 2019, the total slaughter increased by 0.15%, to 5.55 million head. Portuguese pig farming expects the increase in slaughter to continue in 2020 and 2021, as Portugal seeks to satisfy domestic and foreign demand for pork.

The slaughter of Portuguese pigs comprises approximately 30% of slaughtered piglets and 70% of pigs. Piglet production is mainly aimed at the hospitality sector, events and celebrations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of the hospitality sector had a significant impact on Portuguese piglet producers. Thus, for 2020, a reduction in the slaughter of piglets is expected, which will be offset by the increase in the slaughter of pigs, reaching a total of 5.6 million animals. In addition, the carcass weight will increase due to lower piglet production and higher pig production. For 2020, pork production should grow 3.5%, to 380 thousand tons. In the next three years, the Portuguese pork industry expects to increase its pork production by 10% in response to demand.

In January 2019, Portugal finally opened to the Chinese market for Portuguese frozen pork and pork. During the first eight months of 2020, the volume of Portuguese pork exports to China grew six times and reached $ 27.5 million (12,225 tonnes), being the main factor for the further expansion of the Portuguese pork sector. Exports of live pigs to Spain have doubled during the first eight months of 2020. These exports are mainly intended for slaughter at a new pig facility in Spain. The recent outbreak of the African Swine Fever (PSA) in Germany may disrupt the current Portuguese market for live pigs, as prices for live pigs in northern European countries decrease and become more competitive. Japan is also a major export destination for Portuguese pork valued at $5 million in 2019 and exports are expected to continue to grow in 2020.
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