African Swine Fever in Germany: A Turning Point in the Pork Industry

The outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany marks a turning point for the German pork industry. Lower exports have led to oversupply, and the resulting low prices are accelerating the rationalization of the production base.

The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, long-term structural issues, and changes in global demand also weigh on the pork market. Germany’s pork supply chain has been through many challenges in the past, and while things are clearly different this time, we expect the resilience that the pork industry has shown in the past will help it to weather the worst of this storm. The situation in Germany has broader implications for the rest of Europe. We highlight two aspects that are sometimes overlooked when considering what the ASF outbreak in Germany has meant. The first is that Germany lost its position as the leading pork producer and exporter in Europe, creating opportunities for other pork-producing countries. The second is that pork supply chains in western Europe can draw lessons from Germany’s experiences.

Exactly how these opportunities will play out, time will tell, but questions are already arising. Foremost among them is how the impact of ASF, combined with other issues affecting the market in Germany, could trigger a change in the power base of European pork. It could cement the role of Spain as the largest pork producer, but it could also open up opportunities for other second-tier producing countries, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, which have long stood in Germany’s shadow. In this report, we provide an initial view on these topics, and we will look at them in more detail with a more comprehensive report next year.