UK pork exports to China continue to grow
UK pork shipments to China continued to evade the slowdown in the Chinese market during September.
At 2.97 thousand tonnes, fresh/frozen pork exports were up 7% (+210 tonnes) year-on-year during the month. Shipments to Denmark, likely for re-export, also recorded a 21% growth (+480 tonnes) in volume compared to the month in 2016, while exports to Germany increased by 6% (+160 tonnes).
Despite this growth, official HMRC figures show overall exports of fresh/frozen pork were still down 12% year-on-year during September, at 15.2 thousand tonnes. However, this was primarily due to an unusually large decline in shipments recorded to Ireland, which should be viewed with caution as the same drop is not reflected in the Irish import figures for September. UK exports of processed pig meat were also impacted by a significant decline in trade with Ireland that does not reflect the Irish trade data.
As a higher value market for UK exports, the apparent fall in exports to Ireland also meant the value of fresh/frozen pork exports during the month fell ahead of volume. At £18.6 million, the UK’s pork export market was worth 18% less than in September 2016.
For pig offal exports, volumes increased 3% on the month last year to 6.4 thousand tonnes. Shipments to the largest market, China, actually declined 12% (-350 tonnes). However, this was more than compensated for by a 9% (+120 tonnes) increase to Hong Kong, and healthy growth from the smaller markets; Denmark, the Philippines and Ivory Coast.
As has been the case for four months now, UK fresh/frozen pork imports continued to decline on the year during September. At 35.5 thousand tonnes, volumes were 11% behind 2016 levels. The declining volumes counteracted higher average unit prices this year. As such, imports were also down in value terms, albeit by a more modest 2%, standing at £74.9 million during the month. This was again primarily due to a 20% (-3.18 thousand tonnes) decline in recorded shipments from Denmark, compared to the elevated 2016 figure, although volumes remain well above 2015 levels. However, declining imports were also reported from the Netherlands, and also smaller suppliers Spain, Belgium and Ireland.
Bacon imports also declined again during September, by 21%, with an over 50% decline in Danish shipments driving the fall. Meanwhile, imports of sausages continued to increase on the back of growing shipments from Germany, while processed imports declined as shipments from Ireland fell back.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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