UK pig meat exports hit 17-year high in 2016

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In December, the volume of UK pig meat exports increased on the year for the first time since August. At over 15,600 tonnes, shipments of pig meat from the UK were 3% higher than December 2015 and the highest volume exported in the month of December since 1999.

The overall increase can be attributed to a rise in shipments to the likes of Germany and Denmark, outweighing declines in volumes shipped to China, the Netherlands and the US.

As well as the volume traded rising on the year in December, the value of these shipments increased too, helped by further currency movements. The value of pig meat exports in December totalled £22.2 million, 26% higher year on year. Partly driving the overall increase was a rise in the value of shipments to China, despite a fall in actual volume shipped.

Despite fluctuations in the volume of UK exports during the final quarter, the amount of pig meat shipped during 2016 was 10% higher than 2015. At nearly 206,000 tonnes, this is the highest annual amount the UK has exported since 1999. The annual increase can be partly attributed to a 47% rise in shipments to China, which has overtaken Germany and Ireland to become the UK’s largest market in 2016. Exports to Ireland and Germany recorded more modest increases of 8% and 2% on the year respectively.

The value of UK pig meat exports climbed by 28% on the year in 2016 at nearly £252 million. Ireland remained the UK’s highest value market during the year. However, China’s share increased, overtaking Germany to become the second largest market in value terms.

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UK offal exports declined on the year in December, with falls in shipments to South Korea, Denmark and Ireland. Nevertheless, full year exports of UK offal were 31% higher on the year in 2016, driven by increased annual demand from China and Hong Kong.

Shipments of bacon and other processed pig meats increased in December, while exports of sausages declined. Likewise, looking at 2016 as a whole, volumes of bacon shipments increased year on year by 3%, while exports of other processed pig meats and sausages fell by 4% and 33% respectively.

Imports of pig meat into the UK continued to rise in December by 32% on the year at nearly 43,000 tonnes. The rise comes as Danish imports increased by 88% on the year during December at 18,400 tonnes. Full year imports were 18% higher in 2016 at nearly 440,000 tonnes, driven predominately by increases from Denmark. However, there is some doubt over the validity of the Danish import figures. The official Danish trade figures show exports of pig meat to the UK from January to November at just over 125,000 tonnes. Therefore, the UK import numbers should be viewed with caution.

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Millie Askew, Analyst
millie.askew@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8968