2021 Photo Contest, Environment, 3rd Prize

Inside the Spanish Pork Industry: The Pig Factory of Europe


Aitor Garmendia

24 December, 2019

The gestation area of a pig farm in Aragon. European Council Directive 2008/120/EC, relating to the minimum welfare standards of raising pigs, allows the placement of sows in individual crates where they remain immobilized during the first four weeks of pregnancy. Gestation crates are generally arranged so as to accommodate hundreds of sows next to each other.

Spain is one of the four largest global exporters of pork, alongside Germany, the US, and Denmark. The European Union as a whole consumes around 20 million tons of pork annually, and exports some 13 percent of its total production, mostly to East Asia, in particular to China. An EU-funded campaign, Let’s Talk About Pork, has been launched in Spain, France, and Portugal, giving its objective as a drive to counter fake claims surrounding meat production and the consumption of pork in Europe, and to demonstrate that the sector meets the highest standards of sustainability, biosecurity, and food safety in the world. Such standards include guarantees that animals do not suffer pain, and that they have enough space to move freely. Animal rights groups, on the other hand, argue that such practices as routine tail-docking and narrow gestation crates for sows constitute animal abuse, and that animal pain and suffering is widespread. Animal rights investigators say that the industry makes access to farms difficult, and that they are compelled to gain access to such facilities covertly, often at night, in order to document what happens inside. These photographs were taken on a number of such incursions, on different dates, at various facilities across Spain.

About the photographer

Aitor Garmendia

Aitor Garmendia is a photographer focused on documenting the lives of exploited and liberated non-human animals.  Through reports and graphic investigations that portray ...

Technical information

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Nikon D850

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