In the first quarter of 2023, the number of pigs dropped by as much as 20 percent to around 2.2 million in Denmark, a country occasionally light-heartedly described as having “more pigs than humans”.
The current number of pigs is the lowest since 1998 and well under the human population of 5.8 million.
The count of pigs comes from national agency Statistics Denmark.
The news will come as little surprise to the agricultural sector, however, with meat producer Danish Crown having fired 800 staff from its slaughterhouse in the town of Sæby last month.
Inflation has made it increasingly difficult for Danish pig farmers to cover costs, the company has said.
As a result, many have closed their styes while others have sold their animals for export. Both factors have had knock-on effects at Danish Crown.
The chairman of the national association for pig farmers (Landsforeningen af Danske Svineproducenter), Jeppe Bloch Nielsen, said he was concerned more businesses would close in the near future.
“These figures reveal the consequence of Danish Crown not having been able to pay a competitive pork rate to farmers. This has meant that the production of pigs for slaughter has been loss-making for Danish farmers for a long period,” Nielsen told media Finans.
“In the rest of Europe, slaughterhouses pay higher prices for the pigs, which results in high prices for piglets in those countries. That is why Danish farmers choose to export piglets out of the country instead of raising them for slaughter in Denmark,” he said.