The Worrying Number of Pigs in Spain Created by High Pork Demand

Spain is undoubtedly a top tourist destination with a range of attractions. Gastro-tourism has also taken over, with statistics revealing that in 2014 there were over 7.5 million food tourists. This number should now have doubled, considering that Spanish cuisine ranks among the best in the world.

But then, it is not all smiles for the country’s environment. We all know the impact of pollution, including the death of a sperm whale, that had ingested 62lbs of plastic. Now, there’s also another worry; the amount of pigs in Spain has outnumbered the human population. The demand for pork has led to oversupply, with the environment ministry estimating the number of pigs at 50 million, in a country with a population of around 47 million.

But why should the authorities raise the alarm, when the oversupply means food security? For Spain, the shortcomings of keeping pigs override their advantages. Rearing pigs is quite easy, and a profitable venture because of their fast reproduction cycle.

Such a high number of pigs overwhelms the natural environment. But the worst impact is the fact that livestock is the fourth most significant contributor to greenhouse gases. Pig rearing also depletes water resources in a country that is often struck by drought, bearing in mind that an average pig will consume 12 – 15 liters daily. There are also concerns about the high concentration of nitrates in pig waste.

While the ministry of environment, and other stakeholders, think of pigs as a disaster, the finance department states otherwise. In 2017, the industry generated almost $7bn from the production of over four tonnes of pork and its by-products. Together with the job opportunities, it has created, directly and indirectly, there is little that the government will do in response to these latest reports. The issue will probably fade away, just the same way the story of endangered eels is being taken for granted!