Strong growth in Italian pork imports
Italy is the largest net importer of pork in the EU. Demand has also been increasing strongly, and in the first four months of 2018, Italy imported 10% more fresh/frozen pork than during the same period a year before.
The increased import demand has likely been supported by falling pork prices in Europe, reflecting the more plentiful supply availability this year. Average pork import prices were unsurprisingly down 9% year-on-year in the first four months of 2018, which meant the value of Italian imports was stable on the year, at €612 million.
At 344,300 tonnes, imports during Jan-Apr were the highest since 2015, which will have helped to absorb some of the increase in EU production early this year. Most of the increase came from mid-sized suppliers. Shipments from France increased by 42% year-on-year, increasing its market share by three percentage points, and Denmark also increased its share of the market. While Germany remained the largest supplier, with trade only increasing 5%, its market share dropped back slightly.
Pig meat production in Italy was also 2% higher (+10,000 tonnes) year-on-year for January-April, however, despite the additional supplies, there was a reduction in exports of pig meat products across the same period. Fresh/frozen shipments were down 15% year-on-year (-5,000 tonnes), which counteracted some small increases for sausages (+300 tonnes) and exports of cured Italian speciality products (+900 tonnes). This suggests that consumption of Italian pig meat has also been increasing.
Looking at speciality Italian hams, it seems this market has been performing better than the overall EU pig meat market so far this year. Exports totalled 24,500 tonnes at a value of €251 million, which was still a 1% increase on last year’s level. France and the US were the primary countries to receive more product (+1,700 tonnes each), and shipments to the smaller Croatian market also increased by over 50% (+1,300 tonnes). Conversely, exports to Germany, the second largest market, declined.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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