Pigs are the latest casualty of Germany’s energy crisis

Pig herds in Germany have shrunk to a record low as producers battle soaring input costs, adding to the list of German industries hobbled by the energy crisis.

Pig stocks and the number of pig farm farms fell “because of the persistently difficult economic situation,” the German Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) said in a Wednesday press release, adding that a sharp increase in energy, fertilizer and feed costs had pushed production costs higher.

The country registered 21.3 million pigs as of November 3, a decrease of over 10% compared with the previous year and a near 20% drop compared with 2020, bringing it to an all-time low, according to Destatis.

Germany also lost 1,900 pig farms this year, following a drop of 1,600 farms between 2020 and 2021.

In October — the latest month for which data is available — production costs for all meat jumped nearly 47% over the same time last year, Destatis data shows.

The data represents another knock to German industry, which has battled eye-watering energy price rises over the past year, sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Many producers in energy-intensive sectors, including chemicals, glass and metals, have cut their production, while some are laying off staff and relocating parts of their operations abroad to cope.

As many as 2 million workers in Germany could be put on furlough next spring as their employers grapple with high energy prices and a potential shortage of gas, Marc Schattenberg, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank Research, told CNN in October.

For pig farms, energy costs are not the only problem. An outbreak of African swine fever virus in eastern Germany combined with a drop in exports to China — due to its strict zero-Covid policy which was only lifted earlier this month — have also caused headaches for producers, according to the German meat industry association.

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