Spanish exports to the EU increase
Spain is home to the largest pig herd in the European Union. Supported by higher production, Spanish exports of fresh and frozen pork by volume were up a further 3% in 2017, following an 18% increase in 2016.
In 2017, Spanish pig meat production totalled 4.2 million tonnes, which was 2% higher than year earlier levels. This growth came even despite a drop in the sow herd in December 2016, as productivity and carcase weights increased.
In addition, average pig prices in the EU as a whole were up on the year from January- October. This seems to have supported Spanish pork export prices. Average unit prices were 7% higher, in euro terms, than year earlier levels in 2017. This meant the value of their pork export market grew ahead of volume, up 11% year-on-year.
EU export volumes were up 7% year on year, driving the overall export expansion. Growth to a number of smaller EU markets, including the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, was primarily responsible for this increase. In 2017 France also resumed its position as Spain’s main export market for pork, despite exports actually remaining steady on the year, due to the downturn in Chinese imports. There was a 3% growth in shipments to the UK despite a weaker Sterling.
In contrast, there was an overall 3% fall in exports to non-EU countries, as well as a change in the makeup of export destinations. Spain remained a key supplier of pig meat to China, but exports fell by 18%, reflecting the ongoing recovery in Chinese domestic production. With Chinese import demand slowing, Japan became an important destination for Spanish pork in 2017, increasing imports by 34% year-on-year, totalling, 109 thousand tonnes.
According to the latest census results published by Eurostat the total Spanish pig population for December 2017 totalled 30 million, up 3% on the year. The female breeding herd also rose by 3% compared to the previous year. It is likely that the high pig prices received for the majority of 2017 compared to 2016 encouraged Spanish pig producers towards growth.
As a result, Spanish pig meat production is anticipated to increase again in 2018, so further expansion in Spanish exports could be anticipated this year. Although the EU market already receives 65% of Spanish shipments, if the Chinese market becomes more difficult, Spanish exporters will likely turn to the EU. This could be challenging, as there are concerns the European market is reaching saturation, and so prices might experience some downwards pressure.
Abigail Schofield, Trainee Analyst
Abigail.Schofield@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8610