Pig meat supplies fall on Italian market
Domestic pork production within Italy has fallen in the year to date. For the year to September, pig meat production decreased by 2% (-22,000 tonnes) compared to the previous year. The annual decline was particularly marked in Q3, when volumes were 4% lower.
The decline reflects falling carcase weights, as pig throughput has been 3% higher than in 2018 across January-September. Average carcase weights have declined by 6kg on the year, averaging 126kg. Despite this decline, average carcase weights remain significantly heavier than in the UK, influenced by the type of pigs they produce.
Italy continues to be a major importer of pork products, the vast majority of which come from within the EU-28. However, imports have dropped back this year, reflecting tightening EU supplies and rising prices. For the first 8 months of 2019, imports of pig meat (inc offal) to Italy totalled 696,000 tonnes, a 5% decrease on 2018. Germany, Spain and the Netherlands accounted for 62% of the volume supplied. The average price of the imports rose by 12%, which took the total import value to €1.4 billion, up 7% on last year.
Despite falling domestic and imported supplies, Italian exports of pig meat (inc offal) were up 2% for the first 8 months of the year. A range of primarily European destinations drove this increase. Italy has only recently gained access to the Chinese market, and volumes to this destination remain minor. Unlike elsewhere in Europe, Italian export prices have been lower this year, so the value of exports was actually a little lower than last year, at €1.1 billion.
Italy primarily exports processed pig meat, particularly speciality hams. However, this year the growth in exports has come almost entirely from fresh/frozen primary pork. These exports have increased for the year to date by 8% (+4,000 tonnes). Japan remained the largest export destination for Italian pork exports; Germany and France remain the largest destinations for pig meat exports overall.
Given the above dynamics, less pig meat has been available for consumption in Italy this year. Local reports suggest falling sales volumes of both fresh pork and charcuterie products, though rising prices have mitigated the decline in value.