Italian pork imports continue to grow
Italy’s pork imports in the year to July increased by 8% on a year earlier to 591,300 tonnes, according to the latest figures published by Istat. This increase perhaps reflects continuing improvements in demand for pig meat. Italian production is also understood to have been higher this year, based on data from the European Commission.
The largest volume of pork imports was sourced from Germany, which provided a third of the overall total and had increased shipments by 3% compared to the same time in 2017. However, deliveries from a number of other suppliers increased more significantly, including France (+33% or 15,400 tonnes), the Netherlands (+13% or 10,600 tonnes) and Denmark (+18% or 9,600 tonnes). In contrast, there was a drop off in trade with Austria (-15% or 4,500 tonnes) and Ireland (-84% or 1,700 tonnes).
The value of imports during the January-July period totalled €1.05 billion, down 7% compared to the same period in 2017. This follows from a fall of 14% in the average import price, reflecting the lower prices experienced across the EU pig meat market in 2018.
In contrast, imports of live pigs in the first seven months of the year were down by 14%, to 818,500 head. Volumes sourced from Denmark and the Netherlands decreased by 17% (68,600 head) and 26% (71,900 head), though trade with Germany bucked the trend and increased by more than half (+33,100 head). While the majority of live pigs imported are weaner pigs under 50kg, the decline in imports this year has particularly affected the smaller number of slaughter pigs imported. At 168,300 head, the number of pigs over 50kg received fell by 30% (70,500 head) year-on-year.
On the other side of the coin, Italian pork export volumes fell by 19% for the year to July, to 46,100 tonnes. Italy is not a significant exporter of fresh and frozen pork, and volumes traded remain low. Exports of processed products, mainly hams, are more important in value terms, though these shipments also fell 4% to 17,000 tonnes during the period. Within this, shipments to Spain declined by over 75%, a movement which is also reflected in the Spanish import data for the same period.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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