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The meat sector focuses on internationalization

Wiki Spanish Food editorial team

The meat industry is Spain's fourth-largest industrial sector, behind autos, oil and gas and electric power. The National Meat Processing Industries Association of Spain (ANICE) comprises 3,000 companies nationwide, in particular in rural areas.

The industrial structure continues to register a slight decline year-on-year in the number of authorized installations, mainly slaughterhouses which, according to AECOSAN, declined in early 2014 by 2.8% compared with the previous year, while the number of cutting rooms and processing facilities remained practically stable.

Meat and processed meat products are the most popular items in Spanish households, whose total food spending amounted to 66.527 billion euros in 2012, of which meat and meat derivatives accounted for 22%, i.e. far outstripping other leading sectors such as fish, milk, dairy products and fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.

Spanish meat production

In 2014, pork production expanded by 4%, exceeding 3.5 million tons for the first time, a new record high. In contrast, production of beef and sheep/goat meat continues to decline, in line with the downward trend seen in recent years. As a result, pork production is the leading activity in the meat industry, accounting for 83.5% of all ungulate meats produced in 2014 and 61.3% including poultry farming and rabbit breeding. With this volume, which accounts for 3.4% of global production, Spain is the fourth-largest pork producer, behind China, the US and Germany and ahead of Brazil, Russia, Vietnam and Canada. In the European Union, Spain ranks second, accounting for 16% of all EU production and surpassing France, Poland, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands.

Beef production ranks third in terms of global volume (after poultry), accounting for 10% of national meat production. Spain accounts for 8% of production in Europe, behind France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

Although sheep and goat meat production has been sliding for several years, Spain is the second-largest producer in Europe, responsible for almost 18% of the total, after the UK and ahead of Greece and France.

With regard to processed meat production, Spain ranks fourth in the EU, with 1.3 million tons per year, trailing Germany, Italy and France. As for products, cooked cold cuts stand out in terms of volume and white cured and Ibérico hams and shoulders in terms of value.

Foreign trade in meat

In barely 25 years, the meat industry has gone from zero sales abroad to become the leading exporter in Spain's agri-food industry and a top player in the global market for meat products. Exports have been a viable strategy for the sector for years and represent a firm commitment to the future and growth while also helping weather the difficult situation in the Spanish market.

Two-thirds of exports still go to the European Union, and of those, the bulk heads to France, Portugal and Italy. The sector has two notable challenges in this area: to quickly increase sales to non-EU markets, and to increase the number of processed products with added value which set the Spanish industry apart from its rivals.

The Spanish meat sector exported 1.71 million tons of meat and processed products of all kinds in 2014, with a value of 4.467 billion euros, to markets all over the world, yielding a very positive trade surplus of 460%, a figure few sectors of the economy are capable of achieving.

Spain is the world's fourth-leading exporter of pork, which accounts for 8% of sales abroad and amounts to almost 1.4 million tons, trailing Germany, the US and Denmark. The pork sector saw exports to non-EU countries expand by 30% in volume and 33% in value, in a year when the Russian market has been shuttered and barred. Following the closure of Russia, exporting companies have been able to redirect their sales to alternative markets in Asia and other non-EU countries.

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01/08/2017