Meat consumption in Germany fell to its lowest level in over three decades in 2022 led by declining interest in pork, data shows.

The average German ate 52 kilograms of meat last year, down around 4.2 kilograms from 2021 levels and the lowest since the government started tracking meat consumption in 1989.

Meanwhile production levels are falling in the country amid the slumping demand, preliminary numbers from the Federal Information Center for Agriculture reveal.

In 2022, 9.8% less pork was produced than in 2021 and 8.2% less beef and veal. Net production of poultry meat fell by 2.9%.

Meat-processing companies are feeling the squeeze as they struggle to sell into the market – domestic meat production alone supplied enough volume to meet 116% of the demand in 2022. In poultry, domestic production met 97.4% of the market’s demands.

Last year, meat group Danish Crown announced the closure of a 200-employee facility in Germany, citing the declining numbers of slaughtered animals and decreasing consumption of pork.

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The co-operative said it was “adjusting its approach” to the German market in order to improve earnings, including the closure of a deboning facility in Boizenburg, near Hamburg. “We simply have to make more money in Germany,” group CEO Jais Valeur said at the time.

A week later, it announced 150 job cuts to reduce costs and “trim” functions. Valeur said China’s growing domestic pork production, coupled with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and global inflation, had turned the pork market “upside down”.

And German-headquartered meat processor Tönnies cut between 500 and 600 jobs between June and September across two domestic pork plants, citing a “slump” in slaughter numbers.

Slaughtering and cutting positions have been eliminated across the sites in Sögel, Lower Saxony, and Weißenfels in the south of Saxony-Anhalt.

“The entire industry is currently struggling with a slump in slaughter numbers. The reduction in animal husbandry pushed by some politicians is having a full impact. Many farmers have given up their farms and there is a shortage of animals,” Tönnies explained in a statement sent to Just Food at the time.