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Pigs in the Netherlands

by 5m Editor
5 August 2010, at 12:00am

The Dutch pig sector enjoys a good reputation according to a new report Livestock, Meat and Eggs in the Netherlands 2010 published by the Product Boards for Livestock, Meat and Eggs (PVE). Large volumes of pork are exported, as well as many Dutch piglets and clean pigs.


Pork is the most widely sold meat in the country and in the rest of Europe. More than half of the total meat consumption consists of pig meat products. The Dutch pig producing industry responds to consumers' wishes and exploits every available market opportunity. With its IKB quality scheme for total surveillance of animal production, the Dutch pig sector has guaranteed the safety and quality of its pork for many years. Key aspects of this quality control scheme are information exchange combined with a tracking and tracing system (Identification & Registration) for pigs and extra requirements relating to feed, hygiene, sound use of veterinary medicine, welfare and food safety. In addition, since 2009 all pig farms are monitored for the use of prohibited substances and residues of veterinary medicine. Supplying food chain information at slaughter has also been introduced.

Rising Consumption

In 2009, pork consumption rose in the Netherlands to reach 41.8kg per capita; more than one kilo more than in the year before. The credit crisis has forced consumers to eat at home more often, which had a positive impact on the consumption of pork.

Lower Production

The number of slaughterings of pigs showed a small decline in 2009 compared to 2008. In the first six months of the year, fewer pigs were slaughtered in our country. However, in the second six months the level was higher than in 2008. Taken together this resulted in a decline of three per cent on an annual basis. The cause of the lower number of slaughterings was the rising demand for Dutch fatteners from German slaughterhouses. As the average weight of the pigs was higher, the decrease of the production in tonnes was lower than the decrease in numbers.


Sales structure of the pig sector in 2009



Pig slaughterhouses in 2009
(slaughtering more than 100,000 animals a year)
CBS Agricultural Census of 2009



Number of fattening farms and fattening pigs in the Netherlands (1995-2009)



Pig populations in 1995-2009 (× 1,000)



Number of pig slaughterhouses in 1990-2009 (slaughtering more than 25,000 animals a year)

Record Exports of Piglets and Fatteners

The export of piglets and fatteners saw a sharp rise last year. Exports of piglets increased to a record level of 6.1 million. Germany in particular, but also East European countries showed a high demand for Dutch piglets. Exports to Spain, on the other hand, showed a decline to a large extent. The exports of fatteners also reached a new peak of 4.7 million. The majority share of this figure went to Germany.

Lower Exports of Pork, Particularly Outside the EU

Exports of pork slightly fell in 2009 influenced by better market circumstances in the Netherlands itself. Italy and Germany remained the leading customers, each occupying a market share of around 20 per cent. They were followed by the United Kingdom and Greece with a share of more than 10 per cent. Exports to countries outside the European Union, such as South Korea, Japan and Russia, saw a sharp decline influenced by the expensive euro exchange rate, the global economic crisis and import restrictions.

The import of pork into the Netherlands has greatly increased since the start of the past decade (mainly from Germany), but now appears to be stabilising.


The pig sector’s exports in 1995-2009 ('000 tonnes)



Destinations of the pig sector’s exports in 1995-2009

Better Year for Breeders than Pork Producers

A combination of marginally higher prices for piglets, but mainly because of lower feed costs, resulted in a higher balance per sow than in 2008. According to calculations of the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI) the balance rose to €470 per sow. This meant that the income for breeders saw a positive result for the first time in years.

2009 was a much worse year for fattener producers. The higher piglet prices and the lower prices achieved for fatteners put pressure on the balance realised per fattener.

The shorter supplies of pigs in the EU gave the hope in early 2009 that the prices for pigs would show a steep rise after the summer months. However, this failed to materialise, mainly due to the global economic crisis. In West Europe, the volumes sold were good, but consumers showed a tendency to purchase cheaper products from the range of meat on offer.


Market prices of fatteners in 2008-2009
(88kg slaughtered weight; including VAT, share of feed costs and costs of piglet in 2008-2009; €)

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.


July 2010