Where Is the Pig Capital of the World?

By Emily Cassidy

There are at least three times as many animals raised for food each year than there are people on the planet. Raising these 22 billion animals uses more land than any other human activity, and in some places there are way more livestock than there are people. This got me wondering: Where is the pig capital of the world?

New data published in October by the UN Food and Agriculture organization and hosted on Resource Watch shows the global distribution of livestock on the planet in 2010, including chickens, sheep, pigs, cattle, water buffalo, horses, goats and ducks. This is an updated data set from their previous maps of 2006 livestock distribution.

The gridded distribution of pigs is shown in the map below. Areas in purple indicates places with the highest density of pigs raised per square kilometer.

Where is the pig capital of the world?

One way to look at it is where the most pigs are grown in a given region.

Looking at the distribution of pigs globally, there are many places where pig density exceeds 250 pigs per square kilometer, especially in China. In fact, almost half of the world’s pigs are raised in China. The top pig-producing region in the world is Sichuan, China, which produced about 53 million pigs in the year 2010, according to the data. Of the top 20 pig-producing regions in the world, 18 of them are in China, while Iowa and North Carolina are ranked 8th and 20th, respectively.

The fact that China raises more pigs than other country may not be surprising; it is the most populated country in the world, and more than 85 million people live in Sichuan

But another way to think about the pig capital of the world is places where pigs outnumber people. When you overlay global human population data with pig density, it’s apparent there are many places around the world where pigs outnumber people (we found 55 regions). The three with the highest pig to person ratio are highlighted below.

Three Places Where Pigs Outnumber People

Iowa

Iowa takes the crown for pigs outnumbering people. About 22.5 million pigs were raised in 2010 in the state of Iowa, about seven pigs for every person. Pigs raised for slaughter typically don’t live for an entire year, though: it only takes them six months to get up to what the pork industry considers to be slaughter weight.

Denmark

Denmark produced about 13 million pigs in 2010, which is impressive considering the country is only a bit larger than the U.S. state of Maryland. There are three regions in Denmark where pigs outnumber people: In Nordjylland (North Jutland), pigs outnumber people five to one; in Midtjylland (Mid Jutland) and Syddanmark (Southern Denmark) pigs outnumber people about three to one.

Ireland

Just south of Northern Ireland, in the county of Cavan, pigs outnumber people four to one.

Explore the Data on Your Own

You can also use Resource Watch to explore the densities of people compared to the densities of chickens, goats, cattle, horses, sheep, ducks and water buffalo. In case you wanted to know the water buffalo capital of the world, it appears to be India:

The analysis was done in ArcGIS using data downloaded from Resource Watch, using the Zonal statistics tool with subnational political boundaries from the Database of Global Administrative Areas (GADM), Gridded Population of the World (GPW) from NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), and Gridded Livestock of the World Version 3, produced by FAO and the University of Oxford.

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