News Pigs & Pork

Tönnies aims for heavy pigs, but lean meat

May 31, 2024 - Matthijs Bremer

The large German slaughterhouse Tönnies will adjust its payment system as of July 1. Due to weak exports to Asian countries, the company is focusing on less fatty meat. Vion had already adjusted its payment system earlier, although there is a clear difference in approach. While Vion aims for lower slaughter weights, Tönnies is setting up the system for heavier, but leaner pigs.

Tönnies' standard slaughter price will be determined for pigs with a meat percentage of 60% with the introduction of the new system. Previously, that percentage was 59%. If the meat percentage falls below 60%, the payment will be reduced by 1 cent per kilogram. If the meat percentage is below 59%, the price will decrease by 3 cents. If the percentage is lower than 57%, the slaughter price will decrease by a whopping 4 cents. In addition, the slaughterhouse provides a bonus for even leaner meat. If the meat percentage is between 60% and 62%, the German slaughterhouse pays a bonus of 1 cent per kilogram.

On the other hand, the upper limit of slaughter weights is increasing. Previously, pigs could weigh a maximum of 105 kilograms for optimal payment. This upper limit is now being raised to 107 kilograms. If a pig farmer falls below this weight, the slaughterhouse will deduct 3 cents from the payment. The lower limit of the slaughter weight is 86 kilograms. If a pig's weight falls below this, the payment will decrease by 4 cents per kilogram. With the better price at higher slaughter weights, the company is trying to accommodate its pig farmers. Given the high piglet prices, it is more profitable for pig farmers to slaughter pigs at a higher weight.

Vion took the lead
The adjustments to the payment systems of both companies are the result of weaker exports to Asian countries. In recent years, slaughterhouses adjusted their payment system to focus on slightly fattier meat. This aligned with the taste of consumers in countries like China and South Korea, making it easier to export meat. Now that exports to the Asian market are declining, slaughterhouses are once again focusing on leaner meat to best meet the taste of North European consumers.

Earlier, Vion decided to adjust the purchase tables. However, the Brabant slaughterhouse opted for a different approach. Vion not only aims for a higher percentage of lean meat, but also for lighter pigs.

Matthijs Bremer

Matthijs Bremer is a market specialist in pork, beef, and poultry meat at DCA Market Intelligence. He also monitors the protein transition, keeping an eye on developments in cultured meat and meat substitutes.

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