The aftermath of the pandemic, with its impact on the hospitality sector, the progressive closure of companies due to the lack of generational replacement and the escalation of energy costs and the prices of raw materials in recent years -especially after the war of Ukraine–, have depressed the meat industry in Asturias to the worst levels of activity since there are records. According to data from the Asturian Society for Economic and Industrial Studies (Sadei), the meat sector reached a production of 40,202.2 tons in 2022. It is a drop of 2.7% compared to the previous year and 11.6% compared to 2020. But, above all, it is the lowest figure since at least 1990, the most remote year in Sadei’s statistics. The sector has not exceeded the threshold of 60,000 tons for a decade and, since then, the trend has been downward, except for the years immediately prior to the covid.
The region’s meat activity (and its corresponding subsectors such as quartering, curing, pork meat or prepared dishes) is made up of some 90 companies that employ 1,500 people and generate an annual turnover of more than 100 million euros. Of the different products manufactured in the Principality last year, only cold cuts increased, 10.4% in the interannual rate. The greatest drop occurred in cured products: -9.3%.
Livestock prices “are through the roof” for feed and cereals, they point out in slaughterhouses
The sector has been going through difficulties for several years, even since before the pandemic. Companies had to face a sharp increase in the prices of supplies (particularly pork) due to the exponential growth in demand from China. The costs doubled in 2019, causing a “compango crisis” in Asturias for the companies that produced pork derivatives. The outbreak of the covid, which temporarily paralyzed commercial exchanges, gave the sector some respite.
However, the closures of the hotel industry at different times of the pandemic hit Asturian meat production, especially in its second wave, which was very virulent in the region. As the restrictions were eased, the sector was recovering steam, although meat businessmen have assured on various occasions that the “collapse” of the health crisis is still noticeable in their accounts.
The year in which the problems redoubled was 2022. First, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, which triggered the prices of energy and basic products to feed the cattle. Added to this circumstance was the transport strike in March, which made supplies difficult. “It’s been more or less a year that livestock prices have been through the air, especially due to the increase in cereals and feed,” he said. Luis Alberto Sanchez“Panero”, manager of the Asturias Central Slaughterhouse, located in Noreña.
Jose Severino Monte, manager of El Hórreo sausages, adds that energy costs “have tripled and quadrupled, but they cannot be passed on to the client all at once, but gradually, which narrows the margins.” Monte indicated that the increase in the cost of raw materials has infected the entire production chain: “In the first quarter, quarterings have risen by up to 30%.” Other merchandise, such as the pork carcass (the body of the animal once bled and eviscerated), costs 65% more than a year ago, and pieces such as bacon or jowls, essential in the production of Asturian chorizo and black pudding, which They have done 70%.
Monte also points to the closure of companies and the lack of generational replacement as the cause of low production rates, as well as “the concentration of large companies, which makes it difficult for SMEs to gain market share.”
From the Association of Meat Industries (Asincar) they assured that “the reasons” for the decrease in production in the sector are being analyzed.
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