France, one of the largest European pork producers

France, one of the largest European pork producers

20th December 2022 - News

With a production of 2.26 million tons of pork in 2021, France is the third largest pork producer in the European Union, only behind Spain, which produced 5.18 million tons, and Germany, 5 million tons last year. Additionally, the French pork sector is one of the most important worldwide due to its productive, import and export capacity, as well as the high figure of pork consumption among its population. 


The French pork sector is characterised by having a very technical and professionalised production structure, something that has allowed pig breeding to be continued with very similar numbers, practically unchanged, in recent years. According to data from last September, France has a total count of about 13 million heads (931,000 are breeding sows). Numbers linked to meat production have also remained stable and largely unchanged in recent years (Figure 1). The variation registered between 2024 and 2021 has been 4.88%.

Figure 1. Evolution of pork production in France (2014 - 2021)  

Source: Interporc. 


Like production, pork consumption has stabilized in recent years. However, in recent years there has been a slight trend towards a reduction in pork consumption, both in households and in restaurants, due to the ecologist and animal trends that have been implemented gradually. Despite this, France continues to maintain high pork consumption per capita, and pork products of around 30 kg a year per inhabitant. 

Pork trade

Due to its proximity to Spain, its size and its high purchasing capacity, the French pork market is one of the most interesting and a priority for Spanish pigs. Until 2018, France was Spain's main customer, a situation that changed in 2019, when it became the second due to the increase in Chinese imports caused by African swine fever (ASF). 

In 2021 the situation already begun to change and France imported around 300,000 tons of Spanish pork worth 803.7 million euros. During the first half of 2022, the influence of the French market in Spanish exports increased even more, at the same time that the weightiness of China has been reduced because of the increase in its pig herd thanks to their recovery from ASF. Thus, in the first six months of 2022, pork purchases from Spain represented 10.15% in volume and 10.8% in value of all Spanish pork exports, while exports to China would have fallen to 21.2% in volume and 16.8% in value. 

Thus, Spain remains the main supplier of pork to France, followed by Germany, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland. It is worth mentioning that a large part of French imports are fresh or frozen products, with a high degree of preparation and added value, destined for the French charcuterie industry, and processed products for direct consumption. 

In terms of exports, France exports about 25% of its production, and the main destinations of its pork are countries of the European Union, although it also exports a percentage to countries such as China and the Philippines. 

Current situation

Despite the enormous potential of French pork, the sector is currently facing a crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the current armed conflicts in Europe which has led to inflation, especially of agricultural elements and raw materials used for feed production, and the manifestation of African Swine Fever. The French pork sector is facing the strongest price reduction in the last 30 years. In the last year, the price paid to the producer has fallen by 14% while costs have reached 27%. Given the situation, this year the French government has launched a rescue plan bestowed with an amount of up to 270 million euros, as well as a roadmap with short-term measures such as the implementation of promotional campaigns, the reinforcement of biosecurity, or measures to support the opening of export markets.  

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