The dynamic rise in international sales of pork, whether fresh, refrigerated, or frozen, experienced significant growth in both 2019 and 2020, breaching the €1.3 billion threshold. This remarkable figure continued to be surpassed in 2021 and 2022, albeit with a more steady upward trajectory. Recent data provided by the Aragonese Government for the previous year indicates pork exports amounted to €1.347 billion, a figure closely resembling the record-breaking performance of 2020.
Diving into the sector’s specifics, it’s evident that pork held a significant economic weight, representing 78.5% of meat exports in 2022. However, this impressive dominance shouldn’t overshadow the contributions of other subsectors like beef, accounting for 7.9%, and edible offal from species such as sheep, pig, cattle, and goat, making up 8.9% of the export share.
Carmen Urbano, the Director General of Agricultural Promotion and Innovation for the Government of Aragon, sheds light on the dramatic growth the meat industry has undergone. The sector’s evolution has led to a surge in sales, as Urbano points out, and Aragon has become home to major meat producers, particularly in pork, as well as notable presence in beef and veal.
In this landscape of evolving exports, it’s worth noting that China, Italy, and Japan have emerged as the frontrunners in importing Aragonese meat. Over the years, China has taken the lead as the largest importer, with a 2022 valuation of €280 million— a substantial increase from just over €100 million five years prior. Italy, once at the helm of this list, now follows China, with France and Portugal holding the third and fourth spots.
Notably, Japan has ascended as a key player in the meat export arena. The Japanese market is respected for its professionalism and maturity, presenting a prestigious platform for showcasing the quality of Aragon’s products and companies. This diversification of markets has been a crucial strategy for dealing with unforeseen challenges, as seen during the African swine fever crisis that disrupted China’s pig industry.
Aragon’s success story in the meat industry is one of transformation, diversification, and quality. With an ever-expanding global market, the province’s meat producers and livestock owners have managed to not only adapt but thrive. As international markets continue to evolve, the lessons from Aragon’s journey offer valuable insights to producers worldwide. The province’s pioneering meat exports to countries like China, Italy, and Japan exemplify the rich potential of a strategically managed and quality-focused approach.