Growth continues in Irish pork exports
In the first nine months of 2018, Ireland exported 141,400 tonnes of pork, 2% more than in the same period in 2017.
However, the value of Irish pork exports was down by 3% on the year at €321.7 million, with the average export price falling by 5% over the same period. Within the total, exports of fresh/chilled pork were stable on the year while shipments of frozen product were up by 4%.
The overall increase in exports reflects an increase in production, with slaughterings in the year to 24 November up by 3% on the year at 3.1 million head.
Over half of Irish pork exports are traded with the UK, however the weakness of the pound has worsened the competitive position of Irish meat in recent years. EU pig meat has been relatively uncompetitive on the global market for much of this year, and so price cuts have been required in order to achieve volume growth.
Shipments of fresh/frozen pork from Ireland to the rest of the EU were up 3% compared to the same period last year, and the total equates to around 58% of all Irish pork exports. This is one percentage point higher than during the same period last year. Trade to the Czech Republic and France was up by 17% (+690 tonnes) and 71% (+580 tonnes) respectively, while shipments to Italy dropped from a high point last year (-600 tonnes).
Despite the overall rise in export volumes, trade to non-EU countries was stable year-on-year. Nonetheless, shipments to South Korea increased by 71% to 3,300 tonnes. This year, demand for pork in South Korea has been increasing, which may be related to stockpiling activity due to expectations of rising global pork prices in the coming year. Shipments to Australia also increased, by 27% (+1,000 tonnes) year-on-year, and there was also modest growth to a number of other non-EU markets such as Japan, Ghana and the Philippines. Overall however, this was offset by lower sales to the primary Asian market; China (-3,800 tonnes).
Interestingly, volumes of Irish pork imports have reportedly almost doubled in the year to September, at 59,200 tonnes. A significant escalation in shipments from Germany (+20,800 tonnes) has been the main driver, although this is not reflected in German export figures and so should be viewed with caution. Nonetheless, imports from the UK also increased, a trend that is backed up by HMRC figures.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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