EU maintains two thirds share of Chinese imports
Chinese pork imports decreased by 3% on the year in 2014, bucking the trend of the previous four years.
Imports totalled 564,000 tonnes, still above 2012 volumes. China’s growing population continues to show a preference for pork as a protein source. However, the ability of its suppliers to deliver has altered. For example, the US, the single largest pork trader with China, shipped almost 2% less pork on the year, as contamination concerns remain, particularly around the use of Ractopamine, and US production was affected by PEDv. In contrast, the EU as a whole increased its annual deliveries marginally to 368,700 tonnes, accounting for 65% of the market. This can be attributed to growth from Spain and Denmark as well as the UK, in its second full year of trading here, evening out reductions from Germany, France and Poland. At 27,500 tonnes, the UK was the fourth largest EU supplier to China in 2014 (and sixth largest overall) with a market share of nearly 5%.
As overall volumes fell, unit prices also dropped on the year by 2%, despite global pork export prices increasing sharply overall. This partly reflects the mix of products destined for China, many of which have low value elsewhere, but may also give an indication that the prices Chinese consumers are prepared to pay may have peaked for now. The total value of pork imports fell by 5% to RMB6.5 billion (£635 million).
Pig offal imports increased marginally on the year but remained below the volumes of 2012. Asian consumers have a strong preference for offal and cuts deemed less desirable in the West. As such, China continues to be a profitable market for these products, which have little value on domestic markets in North America and the EU. However, this growth appears to have been underpinned by decreasing unit prices, falling by an average of 7% in 2014.