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Ekonomia

The import of live animals for meat is increasing, here is where they come from

The import of live animals for meat is increasing, here is where they come from

Data from foreign trade in the first quarter of 2024 show that the import of live animals in quantity increased by 62%, while a year ago in this period the annual change was 22%.

The data show that almost 30% of the amount of live animals comes from Greece and is slaughtered for meat in Albania.

Sources from the market claim that mostly pigs and small cattle for meat consumption are being imported from Greece. While the number of cattle for breeding, which usually come from the Netherlands and Denmark, is quite low and almost negligible compared to imports for meat.

After Greece, the main suppliers of live animals for meat are Hungary, Romania, Kosovo, Slovakia and North Macedonia. Mainly from these countries come calves and mincemeat.

Imports of live animals for meat are increasing year after year, but this year the trend has been even stronger. On the one hand, the reduction of livestock in the country and on the other, tourism, have increased the demand for meat.

Albanian cuisine is based on meat, so the increase in the number of tourists encourages its consumption in restaurants. But together with consumption, the price of meat has increased significantly. In March, the general level of prices experienced an annual increase of 2.3%, while the price of meat increased by 3.7%.

Our country had a rich tradition in breeding livestock in the wild, but with the decrease of the population in rural areas, the abandonment of the country by young people and the lack of subsidies, this tradition is dying out.

Throughout the years 2021-2022, the number of heads has decreased by about 20 percent, as there is a lack of accurate data for both people and livestock. The Institute of Statistics has postponed to 2024 the Census of Agriculture, which was originally planned to take place in 2022.

Among others, livestock is facing competition within the agricultural sector. In lowland areas, livestock farmers are outcompeted by greenhouses. For 1 hectare of greenhouse, the income reaches on average 40,000 euros per year, while for a cow, 1 hectare is needed and 1,000 euros are earned per year, analyzes an owner of a livestock farm in Fier.

He said that the farmers have understood that the greenhouse gives 2-3 plantings per year, that even if losses in one cultivar are gained in another. In recent years, in the areas where greenhouses have a massive spread, the number of cattle has decreased drastically.

INSTAT data show that, during the year 2022, the biggest annual decline in cattle, which are also the main producers of milk and dairy, was higher in Belsh with 56%, Mallakastër 55%, in Vorë 52%, Lushnjë with 46%, Shijak 45%, areas where there is intensive development of greenhouses.

In the North, ranchers are selling cows and buying hives. For example, in the Tropoja area, the number of cattle has decreased by 35% in the last five years, but the number of beehives is increasing rapidly. Last year in the municipality of Tropoja, 19,569 beehives were counted with a 22 percent increase from 2021 and 166 percent from 2018.