Tighter supplies impact January pork trade

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At 16.8 thousand tonnes, UK fresh/frozen pork exports during January showed a small decline on the same month a year earlier, of less than 1%.

However, improved pig prices relative to 2016 ensured the value of these exports was still up 20% over this period, at £21.5 million. With production during January behind year earlier levels, the only modest decline in shipments indicates a growing importance for exports in the UK pork market.

Within the relative stability, there were shifts in the importance of individual country destinations. Chinese volumes continued to show year-on-year growth, with shipments up 32%, despite likely arriving too late for the key Chinese New Year period. All other major destinations saw overall declines in volume, likely influenced by the tight supply situation. German shipments were 11% behind January 2016 levels, following lower sow slaughter levels during the month.

There was overall growth on the year for shipments of offal, bacon and processed pork products during January, though the total volume of these products exported is much smaller than that of pork.

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Import of fresh/frozen pork continued to show strong year-on-year growth during January, with volumes growing 39% on the year to reach 39.2 thousand tonnes. Following the trend of recent months, this increase was largely due to a substantial 73% increase in imports of Danish pork. Doubts persist over the validity of this increase, and AHDB are currently investigating the matter further.

Nonetheless, with imports from Germany, the Netherlands and Spain also showing growth on the year, it seems more imported pork arrived in the UK during January this year. Bacon, processed products and offal imports also showed growth on the year. Tight UK supplies have likely boosted imports, despite the devaluation of sterling decreasing the competitiveness of this product. Even in euro terms the import prices of both pork and bacon were still up on a year earlier.

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Bethan Wilkins, Analyst

bethan.wilkins@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8757