Summary of our market study

The global pork market has witnessed fluctuations, with China experiencing significant losses due to African swine disease leading to culls and an increased import of pork, pushing pork prices up. Despite a dip during the pandemic, Italy's pork production and export have resumed growth. In 2020, pork consumption in Italy declined by 5.8% in volume and 6.6% in spending. However, amidst rising food prices in 2022, pork consumption increased by 4.9% in volume and spending rose by 10.1%. The sector faced a trade deficit in the first seven months of 2022 after hitting a surplus of 49 million euros in 2021. Exports grew by 2% in value but fell by 7% in volume in the same period of 2022, while imports surged by 16% in value due to price increases in live animals and meat. Germany remains Italy's leading pork supplier, with a 38 percent share of Italian imports in 2021.

Italian Pork Market Dynamics

In Italy, pork holds vital cultural importance and remains a staple food product, central to its culinary identity. With over 10 million pigs slaughtered annually in Italy, and a consumption rate that sees about 45 percent of Italians enjoying pork at least once a week, pork is clearly rooted in the country's diet. However, recent years have revealed several emerging trends and challenges that are shaping the nation’s pork market. The Italian pork industry faced a notable impact during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to fluctuations in production and consumption patterns. Pork production decreased from 1,437 thousand tons to 1,308 tons in 2021, reflecting a broader trend of reduced meat consumption. Fresh pork expenditure took a significant hit as well in 2021, where both volume and spending reduced by more than 5 percent year-on-year. Nevertheless, the expenditure on pork seems to have rebounded in 2022, benefitting from a general inflationary push across the food sector. Per capita consumption of pork has been on a decline, from 29.1 kilograms in 2017 to 27.9 kilograms in 2021, suggesting that the dip in pork consumption arises from a reduction in consumption per person rather than a complete cessation.

Meanwhile, the Italian market has also observed a marginal shift towards vegetarianism and veganism, with over 7 percent of the population identifying with such dietary patterns. Across the country, different pig breeds contribute uniquely to the market. The prestigious Mangalica, though rare, is among the most valued for its meat. Heavy pig breeds like Large White, Landrace, and Duroc dominate in the production of cured meats, while light pig breeds are favored for direct meat consumption. The spatial distribution of pigs is uneven, with more than 88 percent of pigs situated in the northern regions, highlighting Lombardy's profound contribution with over half of the country’s pigs. The export-import dynamic has shown promise, with 2021 closing on a trade surplus for the first time. In terms of foreign trade, Germany emerges as the prime supplier, with a notable 38 percent of Italian pork imports. Italy’s stringent adherence to the ‘Hygiene Package’ set by EU standards, involving regulations such as Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 concerning meat traceability, ensures food safety in the pork industry. Furthermore, the nation has its own set of ordinances such as the Ordinance of July 30, 1999, which amends hygienic standards.

Key Figures in the Italian Pork Industry Landscape

The Italian pork market is anchored by several pivotal companies operating at various stages of the pork value chain—from breeding to processing and distribution. These players are not only crucial for satisfying domestic demand but also contribute significantly to the international presence of Italian pork products. Below, we describe some of the primary market actors based on their roles and contributions as we gleaned from the extensive report provided.

  • Feed Companies (420 Industries): These companies represent the initial link in the pork supply chain, supplying animal feed to pig farms across Italy. Their expertise lies in the production of high-quality feed that ensures the health and growth of pigs, which subsequently influences the overall quality of pork meat entering the market.
  • Breeding Companies: Over 30,000 units make up these enterprises, involved in the open and closed pig breeding cycles. The breadth of these businesses ranges from smaller family-run farms to larger corporate entities involved in producing piglets for fattening, and ultimately, animals prepped for slaughter. Their role is critical in sustaining the supply of pigs for the Italian market and beyond.
  • Processing Enterprises: Approximately 3,000 processors, including slaughterhouses and meat processing firms, operate within the Italian pork market. Larger players often engage in both slaughtering and intricate processing tasks—ranging from cutting meat to crafting elaborately raw or pre-cooked pork products. Moreover, they are responsible for packaging fresh meat portions for retail sale and undertaking the curing phase for esteemed products such as hams.
  • Modern Distribution and Horeca: These entities form the final consumer distribution phase in the domestic pork market. Modern Distribution dominates retail, consisting of supermarkets and specialized stores, while hotels, restaurants, and cafes (Horeca) cater to the hospitality industry by supplying processed pork products for immediate consumption.
  • Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna Regions: These two Italian regions are noteworthy actors within the industry by virtue of being the most significant areas for pig slaughter, accounting for 36% and 35% of the national total respectively. These regions underpin the pork production capabilities of Italy due to their large-scale operations and advanced meat-processing facilities.
  • Cured Meat Producers: These traditional producers churn out a variety of Italian cured meats, with ham producers making a notable impact. They collectively contribute over 50% of the national cured meat production, emphasizing traditional Italian specialties like Parma and San Daniele hams, mortadella, and a diverse array of salamis.
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1 Market Overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

The pig is a domesticated mammal raised for its meat; like all animals, pigs come in a variety of breeds and origins, each with distinct tastes and attributes. The Eastern breed produces fattier meat useful for lard, while the European breed produces leaner, more prized meat; the most prized breed is the Mangalica, a rare Hungarian pig from which some of the finest meat in the world is obtained. Pork has many different cuts and cooking methods, but it is mainly distinguished as fresh or processed meat. Not all religions allow the use of pork in cooking, among them the Jewish religion and Islam. The world pig population is currently in decline, with China's pig herd suffering significant losses due to African swine disease in 2018-2019. As a result of the disease, there have been a series of compulsory cullings, and significant amounts of Chinese meat have been drowned in international markets. China, on the other hand, has started importing massive amounts of pork since 2019, causing pork prices to skyrocket.

The global pork market was valued at $236,112.7 million in 2019, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.9 percent from 2021 to 2027, reaching $257,874.5 million by 2027.

Pork in Italy is an integral part of the culinary culture; in fact, Italy is the home of the highest quality pork sausages and fresh butchered meat. From northern to southern Italy, pork is handled with extreme care and sold in specialized butcher shops, delicatessens, or supermarkets. The vast majority of pigs raised in Italy are bred in the north. Expertise in developing large pigs weighing more than 160 kg for the production of ham is a distinctive feature of Italian pig farming. More than 10 million pigs are slaughtered each year in Italy, compared with about 252 million pigs slaughtered in Europe. After the small recession due to the pandemic, Italy is increasing its production and especially has resumed exporting Italian pork.

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Companies quoted in this study

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Carrefour Italia
Esselunga s.p.a
Su.it. Suini Italiani S.r.l.
Martelli F.lli S.p.A.
F.lli Guerriero Srl
ProSus - SOCIETA' COOPERATIVA AGRICOLA
PIC Italy SRL
ALLEVAMENTI DI NERVIANO SRL

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