International Pork Day was celebrated on March 15; a protein whose consumption is increasing in Ecuador and is the second most consumed protein, apparently displacing beef, although it is still very far from chicken, which according to the National Corporation of Poultry Breeders of Ecuador (Conave) ranks first with 27 kg per Ecuadorian per year.

Meanwhile, the race for second place centers on recent figures from the Association of Pig Producers of Ecuador (ASPE), which reveal that Pork consumption per capita in 2022 was 11.44 kga figure that exceeds the current consumption of beef by more than 3 kg, which is officially 8 kg, as stated Enrique Baquerizo, President of the Association of Cattlemen of the Coast and Galapagos.

July is the month of chicken, the consumption of which has increased by 155% in the region and in Ecuador, where fried is preferred, and per capita intake reaches 27 kg

However, Baquerizo is cautious about the figures reported by the pork sector.

“I don’t think that the consumption of pork exceeded the consumption of beef, because in Ecuador there are not as many pigs as there are cattle, and besides, to know the consumption per capita, you have to do a census, not a census,” explained Baquerizo.

for his part, Estefanía Loaiza, Executive Director of ASPE, he explained that the figure was calculated in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG); and that the starting point for calculating per capita consumption was the annual production of pork in the country.

“In 2022, Ecuador registered 206 million kilograms of pork production. This figure is divided by 18 million Ecuadorians, resulting in a per capita consumption of 11.44 kg,” explained Loaiza, who added that in 2022, 2.8 million pigs were raised.

Meanwhile, current consumption figures for chicken and beef still do not exceed those of 2019, the year before the pandemic, with the exception of pork, which exceeded them by an extra kilogram. That year, per capita consumption of chicken meat was 33.19 kg, while pork and beef resulted in “technical parity” with 10.90 kg and 10 kg, respectively, according to figures from each of the unions cited by Procampo.

Currently, according to the Association, Ecuador has a total herd of approx 4,300,000 head of cattledistributed among nearly 280,000 ranchers across the country, according to the union, which assured that according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), about 3,000,000 heads animals are intended for meat production and dual purposes.

Meanwhile, ASPE indicated that 63% of this pork production comes from industrial farms and that the sector generates sales of $600 million annually, representing 8% of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP). He added that there are more than 163,000 pork producers in Ecuador, 94 percent of which are small.

However, one of the main players in the industrial sector is Pronaca, which this Wednesday, March 22, with its product Mr. Chancho is celebrating its 30th anniversary on the market. In those three decades, according to the company, per capita consumption of pork has increased about 193%, going from an average intake of this protein of 3.9 kg in 1993 to 11 kg in 2022, also based on ASPE figures.

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María Elisa Valenzuela, general manager of the brandexplains that one of the reasons for the increase in pork consumption is that, along with the normal growth of the country’s population, the middle class has strengthened, especially in the last two decades, which has grown from 15% of the population in 2002 to 24% in 2022, calling based on INEC data.

“This meant more income for the family group, which increased access to new forms of food,” says Valenzuela, who adds that another decisive factor for Ecuadorians to integrate pork to a greater extent on their table is related to the innovation of the offer in cuts and presentations which facilitate its consumption and offer the possibility of diversifying the intake of this protein.

for his part, Manuel Salgado, manager of pig business in Pronacahighlights the innovation of the industry through the modernization of production, prioritizing animal nutrition, health and strict quality controls throughout the production process, which has also contributed to the increase in consumption in recent years.

“Our pigs are fed the highest quality corn and soybeans, creating the best conditions for their breeding, and thus the trust of our consumers,” says Salgado.

According to data from the Association of Pig Breeders, per capita consumption in 2022 was 11.44 kg. The livestock sector takes the figures with caution

Meanwhile, the executive director of ASPE reported that meat production this year represents a 2% increase compared to 2022.

This, according to Loaiza, is due to the fact that the mothers implemented in 2022 start their production and there is stability in the production issue of the sector due to access to materials such as corn and wheat.

In addition, the effects of campaigns and activities in favor of pork consumption can be seen, in February 2023 the first National Pork Consumption Day was marked, said the executive director who expects an annual increase of between 7% and 8% in production.