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Argentinian swine industry looking for ways to grow, June 10th

Driven by an increase in domestic consumption, Argentinian pork production grew by more than 40% between 2001 and 2011. It is far from a jubilant story though. Growth seems to come in waves and trade issues with for instance Brazil make life for Argentina’s swine producers even more complicated

To start off: A quick introduction to Argentina’s swine industry. According to a report by the Argentinian ministry of Agriculture, Animal Ranching and Fisheries (Minagri), last year, Argentina had a herd of almost 3.5 million head of pigs, a 6.06% year-on-year increase. These are spread out over more than 50,000 production units – from subsistence production to vertical integration. About 80% of the units have less than ten sows and only 0.1% have more than 500.
Production is concentrated in the Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Santa Fe provinces, which, together, account for about 70% of Argentina’s sow herd. These provinces also harbour the largest number of slaughtering plants (see Figure 1). Last year, the country counted 169 processing plants, 23 municipal abattoirs and six rural plants. Production grew over 40% between 2001 and 2011.
Despite all these growth figures, Argentina’s pig industry seems to be on a uphill winding road. One of the reasons for that is related to the fact that domestic pork consumption is still low, below 9 kg per capita per year. After all, historically, Argentina is linked to beef consumption. According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), beef comprises 61% of the animal protein included in the Argentinian diet, with the remainder being shared among other products such as poultry, lamb, goat and pork.
Nevertheless, this situation has been changing a bit over the last few years. Promoting pork consumption has become an instrument for the government to achieve a lower domestic beef consumption. This beef, in turn, would be good for exports, the government feels.


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