French exports boosted by Italian trade in Q1

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In the first quarter of the year, French pork exports totalled 114,700 tonnes, 17% higher than the level recorded in 2017.

The growth was particularly driven by trade with Italy, the largest market for French pork exports, which accounted for a quarter of total volumes. According to French customs data, shipments to Italy grew by nearly 50% (+9,000 tonnes) in the first three months of the year. This growth was likely helped by improving demand in Italy, with the latest consumer panel data indicating pig meat sales volumes were 0.6% higher year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018. Volumes to a number of smaller markets (the Philippines, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany) also grew by around 1,000 tonnes each. Conversely, a 14% (-2,000 tonnes) drop in exports to China offset some of the expansion to most other markets, and meant shipments to non-EU markets were 6% lower overall at 28,400 tonnes.

Average unit prices were lower in the first three months of the year, reflecting the higher volumes of pork on the European market so far in 2018. In France alone, production was 4% higher than in 2017 during the first quarter, however consumer panel data continues to indicate declining French demand. This likely meant export growth was required to clear the market, with associated price cuts. As such, the total value of French pork exports only increased 6% year-on-year, to €200.7 million.

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French pork imports in the first quarter of 2018 also increased, growing 10% year-on-year to 77,600 tonnes. Spain remained the largest supplier of pork into France, with its share of the market increasing to 73% as shipments grew 13% (+6,000 tonnes) on a year earlier. Volumes imported from Germany, the second largest supplier, also increased by around 1,000 tonnes, although Danish imports fell by a similar amount.

Interestingly, the average unit price of French pork imports was stable on the year in the first three months of 2018, contrasting with the trend in export prices and finished pig prices at the time. This meant the total value of French pork imports also increased 10%, reaching €193.5 million.

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Bethan Wilkins, Analyst

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