Live animal exports stood at 1.8 billion euros in 2020

Two pigs in a livestock trailer
© Hollandse Hoogte / Flip Franssen
In 2020, the Netherlands exported 1.8 billion euros worth of live animals. Germany and Belgium are the largest markets. The import value of live animals amounted to 1.1 billion euros. Live animals are mainly transported by road hauliers, covering a total of 42 million kilometres. For the first time, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports figures on live animal transport, combined with the import and export value.

Pigs represented the highest export value at 795 million euros, followed by poultry (310 million euros). Most live animals are exported to other European countries. Exports to Germany are the highest, at nearly 742 million euros. With over 70 percent, the bulk of this amount is on account of pig exports. Almost half of exports to Belgium (total value of 276 million euros) consist of cattle.

Outside Europe, exports of live animals to the United States are the highest. This country ranks third among the most important export markets. This is mainly due to the high export value of horses, donkeys and mules (142 million euros). Spain and Italy complete the top five of destination countries for live animal transport.

Export value of live animals, 2020
LandPigs (million euros)Poultry (million euros)Cattle (million euros)Horses, donkeys and mules (million euros)Sheep and goats (million euros)Other animals (million euros)
United States000142.3031
United Kingdom0.65.5912.1012.5

Mainly imports of live poultry

As for live animal imports, neighbouring countries Germany and Belgium are also the most important trade partners. The top ten countries with the highest import value are exclusively European. Last year, the import value of live animals stood at 1.1 billion euros, mostly poultry (601 million euros). Of these imports, 574 million euros (51 percent) came from Germany and 332 million euros (29 percent) from Belgium. Poultry accounted for 71 percent of the value of imports from Germany.

Pig imports represent a much lower value than pig exports. Pigs are mainly imported from Belgium (50 million euros), Denmark (33 million euros) and Germany (23 million euros).

Import value of live animals, 2020
LandPigs (million euros)Poultry (million euros)Cattle (million euros)Horses, donkeys and mules (million euros)Sheep and goats (million euros)Other animals (million euros)
United Kingdom0.615.

42 million kilometres by road

Live animals are mainly transported by road. In 2020, Dutch hauliers travelled 41.9 million kilometres carrying live animals, 64 percent of which within the Netherlands.
In addition to road transport, a small proportion of live animals were transported by planes or seagoing vessels. Last year, this involved over 16 thousand aircraft movements. No figures are available on the number of sea transport movements involving live animals. Animals transported by air include horses, poultry and pets such as dogs and cats. In contrast to road or maritime transport, transportation of pets in the cargo hold by individuals is also included in the figures for aviation.

Average animal transport journey at 111 kilometres

In 2020, Dutch hauliers made more than 376 thousand live animal transport journeys on Dutch (301 thousand) and international roads (75 thousand). A live animal journey by road amounted to 111 kilometres, on average. The journeys within Dutch borders averaged 76 kilometres, while partially or fully international journeys averaged 254 kilometres.

Live animal transport journeys by Dutch hauliers, 2020
AfstandsklasseLive animal transport journeys (x 1 000 )
0 to 5 km3.4
5 to 10 km22.5
10 to 50 km108.9
50 to 100 km91.2
100 to 200 km108.2
200 to 500 km33.4
500 to 1,000 km6.2
1,000 km or more2.5