German exports fell further in second quarter
German fresh/frozen pork exports were 5% lower than in 2016 during the first half of the year, with the decline accelerating to 9% in the second quarter.
The decrease was primarily driven by a slump in Chinese trade, which fell by over a half to 61 thousand tonnes during the period. The suspension of exports to China from a number of key plants between February and June this year will have influenced this decline. However, Chinese demand has also been slower in general, and so shipments are unlikely to have since returned to year earlier levels. Germany had formerly been the largest exporter of pork to China, but Chinese Customs figures indicate during the January-July period this year it had slipped to third place behind Spain and Canada.
A 6% decline in shipments was also reported to Italy, the largest export market for German pork, with 163 thousand tonnes being shipped during the first six months of the year. However, volumes were actually largely stable on 2016 during the second quarter. In fact, during Q2 shipments to all key destinations aside from China were higher, partially countering the demise of Chinese trade. Exports to South Korea grew by over a half on Q2 2016, and intra-EU trade was also 5% higher. This included a 26% increase in shipments to the UK, which amounted to 21 thousand tonnes.
Despite the weaker export demand, German pig prices fared well during the second quarter, with prices stable to increasing especially in the former part of the period. This will have been aided by falling production. The latest Eurostat figures show a drop of 4% on the year across April and May. Nonetheless, prices have since lost upward momentum, and have been largely stagnant in recent weeks.
Reports suggest German pig supplies could now be picking up somewhat. Export demand had previously been supporting the price while domestic demand remains weak; if this does not change prices could come under downward pressure as the current price level is uncompetitive on the global export market. With the German market generally leading the overall EU market, this could have implications for the rest of the EU, including the UK.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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