UK exports bringing home the bacon, despite tight supplies
The value of UK pork exports was up on the year yet again during October, climbing by 13% to reach £21.4 million.
As for the previous month, this increase occurred in spite of declining export volumes, which were down 11% relative to 2015 at 15.5 thousand tonnes. The UK continued to exploit the weaker value of the pound, as higher unit prices in sterling terms were less notable in stronger currencies such as the euro.
A significant 32% decline in shipments to Germany, relative to the month last year, was key to driving the overall fall in export volume. Ireland also took 9% less during this period, while the Netherlands saw a 26% decline in shipments. With UK production 5% behind year earlier levels during October, including an 11% fall in sow slaughterings, limited supplies likely restricted exports to these markets.
Conversely, shipments to China grew again after being static on the year during September. A relatively modest 18% year-on-year increase in exports was seen, despite increasing competition from cheap US and Brazilian product. Similarly, offal shipments showed positive growth again; value was up 65% on October 2015, with growth being driven equally by the Chinese and Hong Kong markets.
Bacon exports were also positive during the month, increasing in volume by 8% and value by 13% relative to the October last year. Shipments to France more than doubled on the year, likely spurred by price competitiveness. However, exports of sausages and other processed pig meats declined relative to last year.
As has been the case in recent months, pork imports continued to be above year earlier levels during October. At 42.7 thousand tonnes, volumes were up 25% relative to 2015. This was again largely driven by Danish shipments, which the data suggests almost doubled relative on the month last year, while volumes from Germany also rose by 10%. The weakness of the pound and rising unit prices meant the total value of these shipments rose by almost 50% relative to 2015, reaching £83.5 million. The value of all other pig meat products imported was also greater than a year earlier, even though bacon shipments were back on the previous year in volume terms.
Bethan Wilkins, Trainee Analyst
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