Limited supplies constrain German exports
The latest figures for German pork exports between January and September show a 2% fall in volumes, or 20,000 tonnes, to 1.31 million tonnes. What has changed more markedly, however, is the destination of these exports.
In the first nine months of 2018, China accounted for 130,000 tonnes or 10% of German pork trade, whereas in 2019 this increased to over 14% at 185,000 tonnes. This reflects not only China’s pork supply difficulties but also the limited way in which German exporters have been able to respond. For example, increased production in Spain has allowed Spanish exports to China to go up by two thirds in the year to date.
Pig meat production across the EU has fallen this year, by 168,000 tonnes in the year to August. Germany is the single biggest contributor to this decline, its production falling by 105,000 tonnes (-3%). Other than Spain (+2%), the Netherlands (+5%), and of course UK production (+2%), almost every other nation has produced less pork in the year to August.
Despite being limited in the way volumes can respond, values have nonetheless increased. The value of German pork exports between January and September this year totalled €3 billion, 10% more than in the same period in 2018. Much of this increase can be ascribed to China. Export prices to this destination have gone up by 32% year on year, to €2/kg, for products that over the longer term have typically fetched closer to €1.50/kg.
The effects of rising Chinese prices can also be seen on the German wholesale market. Cuts such as belly are recording higher prices, with annual price growth of nearly 50%. The rise in Chinese pork prices means its market may increasingly overlap with EU demand.