The global pig industry | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

The global pig industry

Pig meat is the most commonly consumed meat in the world. Around 1.3 billion pigs are slaughtered annually for meat worldwide and around 250 million in the European Union (EU) (1).

Around half the world’s pork is consumed in China, where urbanisation and rising incomes continue to drive pork consumption upwards.

In October 2015, the EU exported a record volume of pork, with shipments to China being double what they were the year before (2). Exports to Japan also increased by 40 per cent. These two countries represented more than half of total exports (2). Asia is a dominant region in the global pig industry, with major markets China, Japan and Korea showing growth in recent years (2).  

In 2013, China produced about 53.73 million metric tons of pork. This was followed by the United States (10.50 million metric tons), Germany (5.49 million metric tons), Spain (3.43 million metric tons), Brazil (3.28 million metric tons) and Vietnam (3.21 million metric tons) (3). France, Poland and Italy also had high pig meat production that year (3).

In 2014, EU pig production was concentrated in a number of countries, with Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Poland having more than two thirds of the breeding pigs between them (4).

It has been stated that more than half of the world’s feed crops will soon be eaten by pigs in China (5). In 2010, China’s soya imports accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total global market (5). The British pig industry is also an insatiable consumer of soya. Around three-quarters of total soya grown around the world goes into producing protein-rich animal feed for livestock (6). Soya is also used to bulk out processed meat products.