German trade weakens in the first quarter
The EU’s largest pig meat producer, Germany, recorded a year-on-year decline of 8% in pork exports between January and March this year.
The EU’s largest pig meat producer, Germany, recorded a year-on-year decline of 8% in pork exports between January and March this year. This was partly a result of the Russian import ban but also lower export orders from other EU countries, combined with lower live pig imports, limiting production to some extent. The majority of the exports (around 84%) were shipped to the rest of the EU, with Italy and Poland key buyers. However, supplies to both came down, by 3% and 8% respectively. Exports to the Netherlands fell more sharply, by 31% compared with the first quarter of 2013. In contrast, supplies to Austria and the UK increased; German pork to the UK totalled 27,300 tonnes in the first quarter, up 6% on the year. As for other EU suppliers, Asian markets gained some importance in the German export trade. Shipments to South Korea more than doubled in the first quarter of the year, although last year during the same period volumes were unusually low. Much higher volumes were also sent to Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Lower exports meant that the import requirement was lower and so the import market also suffered, whereby foreign purchases fell by 10% on the year. Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands account for 80% of the total import market and supplies from these countries collectively fell by 12% compared with the first quarter in 2013. This was partly offset by higher pork volumes recorded from Spain, Poland and Ireland during the same period.
As alluded to above, German live pig imports were down 5% year on year in the first quarter of 2014, to 3.4 million head. Weaner imports were down 7% as German finishers continued to face increased competition from their Polish counterparts. Slaughter pig imports were down 2%.