Trade between EU countries holds firm
The latest data suggests the volume of pork traded between EU member states in the first half of 2017 was similar to year earlier levels.
Given that EU pig meat production actually declined 2% on 2016 levels during this period, proportionally more European pork was traded internally in the first half of this year. This reflects the 14% decline in third country exports during the period, following from a reduction in Chinese demand.
There is some discrepancy between the import and export data, with the former suggesting an increase of over 1%, while the latter suggests shipments were stable on the year. However, the growth in imports was primarily driven by the alleged 23% increase in imports into the UK, which may be somewhat overstated. On average, it seems around 2.7 million tonnes of pork was traded within the EU in the first six months of the year, accounting for around 23% of overall EU production.
On an individual country basis, the three largest exporters (Germany, Spain and Denmark) all reported year-on-year growth in intra-EU shipments. This was countered by declines from Belgium (-7%), the Netherlands (-4%) and France (-5%), likely related to sharper falls in production from these countries.
On the import side, the two major importers, Italy and Germany, reported shipments fell by 2% and 6% respectively. However, there was growth from a number of smaller importers, most notably the Netherlands (+21%) and Romania (+14%), that compensated for this.
Demand from China is expected to remain challenging in the latter part of the year, and as such the volume of pork available for trading within the EU may start to move up. However, with EU demand remaining modest, this might push supplies increasingly ahead of demand. The current downwards price pressure suggests this trend may have already begun.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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