Mixed picture on UK imports in March
UK pork imports in March 2015 increased 3% compared to March 2014 but bacon and sausage imports were lower.
According to the latest data from HMRC, UK pork imports in March 2015 increased 3% compared to the level seen in 2014. Higher volumes were reported from Denmark, Belgium and Spain, while imports from Poland remain well up on last year. However, shipments from Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland all fell. This is the second monthly rise in imports, suggesting the price difference between the UK and the rest of Europe was large enough to tempt some buyers. This has helped imports to the UK in the first quarter of 2015 increase by 3%. Continuing high supplies of pork in the EU and the weak euro led to the average unit price being 10% lower during the quarter, compared to 2014, which resulted in the total value of UK imports falling 7% year on year. In contrast, imports of bacon were down by 8% in March, with lower shipments seen from Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland, although purchases from Germany and Spain actually increased. Processed pork imports were up 4% on the year as a result of higher shipments from Ireland and Poland, while the volume of sausages imported fell 7% driven by lower volumes from Germany.
Following increases in February, UK pork exports fell 12% in March, as the strength of the pound led to UK products being less competitive on the global market. Volumes going to all major markets fell, with the sharpest fall being to China, down 27%, making it the second largest market for UK pork. Exports to Germany also fell but by a more moderate 8%, meaning it overtook China as the largest destination for UK pork in March. Exports to Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Hong Kong also dropped. This meant export volumes from the UK in the first three months of the year were down 4% compared with the same period in 2014. The average unit price of shipments in March fell 11%, reducing the total value of UK pork exports to £15.5 million, 22% down year on year. Offal exports were down as increased shipments to China were not enough to offset falls to Hong Kong and EU markets.