The Brazilian pig herd is thought to number 30 million head, and to produce 3 million tons of meat, generating 630,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is most concentrated in the south and south east of the country, where consumption is also concentrated.

Brazilian pork production has achieved significant growth over the last five years. According to the Brazilian association of pig meat producers and exporters (Abipecs), three main factors have contributed to this growth – rising income levels among Brazil’s consumers, an expanding population and rising exports. Over this five year period, Brazil produced 21.8% more pig meat.

Rising quality  

Not all types of production have grown, however. Expansion of industrially produced pork grew by 36.7%, while subsistence production, which results in the excess entering the market, declined by 34.1%. This, Abipecs notes, points to an increasing professionalization of the sector.

Total slaughterings in the country between 2004 and 2009 increased by 27.6%. Those that were carried out in compliance with the Ministry of Agriculture’s federal inspection service (SIF) grew by 38.4%, while those operating under other systems declined by 3.4%. Some industrial plants that operated with state certification, now have federal certification.

SIF-compliant slaughterings now account for 83.1% of all pig meat produced, up from 77.7%, which gives a greater guarantee of the quality of Brazilian pork meat, Abipecs notes. Subsistence production fell to some 17% of the total. This area of production is not subject to traceability measures and so, with its gradual decline, the health risks to consumers in the country have also declined.

Despite poultry meat and beef being the meats of preference in Brazil, and consumers preferring processed pig meat to cuts of pork, unprocessed pig meat still accounts for a third of the meat consumed in the country. Brazil has also seen the availability of pork increase over the last five years.

“2010 has been characterized by strong internal demand,” comments Abipecs president Pedro de Camargo Neto, “which has led to strong prices on the home market. The significant increase in the minimum wage over recent years, and the growth in total wages have strengthened domestic demand for protein in general. However, the strengthening of the Brazilian currency has reduced our competitiveness on external markets.”

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Exports  

Pig meat is the most consumed animal protein in the world, and annual global production stands at some 115 million tons. Almost half of this is produced in China with a further third accounted for by the EU and the US. Brazil, with a growing share of world markets, is currently ranked as the fourth largest producer, with 3% of total production and an export share standing at 11%.

The US, EU, Canada, Brazil and China account for 96% of total exports. Over the last decade, Brazil has more than doubled its participation in international markets, with its share of trade rising from 4% to 11%.

Abipecs notes that the country has outperformed its competitors despite having to face health barriers to trade, increases in European export subsidies and greater competition. Between 2004 and 2009, Brazil’s exports increased by 19%.

Over the first eight months of this year, Brazil exported pig meat worth US$885.44 million, an increase of 14.82% compared with the same period in 2009. In volume terms, exports fell by 7.17% to 361,157 tons. Despite this, the outlook for the year end is not quite so positive.

In September, Mr de Camargo Neto, stated that Brazil would export 600,000 tons less pig meat this year, taking exports to below the average for the last five years. While recent months have seen exports perform well, the first part of the year was particularly difficult.

Yet the outlook is positive. Mr de Camargo Neto commented that on the home market the industry would be concentrating on improving routes to the consumer and on raising overall consumption. On the export market, he continued, the industry’s aim would be to achieve recognition that the health status of the Brazilian herd is amongst the highest in the world. He forecasts that, over the next 10 years, exports of Brazilian pork will triple.