Expanding herd supports strong Irish exports in 2014
During 2014, Ireland exported 148,000 tonnes of fresh and frozen pork. This was a 12% increase on 2013, bringing in €353.6million.
Although average export prices did fall marginally overall, the drop was smaller than that recorded by most other major EU exporters. There was additional product available for export as almost 6% more pig meat was produced in 2014 than 2013 in Ireland. This was possible on the back of an increase in the breeding herd, indicating higher production is also to be expected in 2015; the total pig herd in December 2014 topped 1.5 million head for the first time in three years. Indeed, Irish imports were down by 3% as their own supply went further to meet domestic demand.
The EU as a whole increased its share of Irish exports on the year to 60%. The UK continued to be the main recipient of Irish pork in 2014, taking over a third of the total and 8% more than 2013, despite UK production also being up. This trade has in part been supported by the price difference, exaggerated by the depreciation of the Euro, making Irish product cheaper than UK pork. Germany took 5% less Irish pork, mainly affecting cull sow carcases, as the Russian import ban affected the balance of supplies across the continent.
With the loss of the Russian market, Ireland’s second largest buyer last year, more pork was directed to Asia, as well as the US. China retook second position, receiving 22,400 tonnes, up 8% on the year. Japan, South Korea and the Philippines all saw significant increases on the year as their own production, like the US, was affected by disease. Similarly, offal exports increased by almost a third on the year, predominantly to China, as well as to Hong Kong and the Philippines. These cuts are now worth nearly €20 million for Irish exporters.