Processed products boost Irish pig meat exports to record level
In the first half of 2018, Ireland exported 144,800 tonnes of pig meat and offal, up 8% on 2017 to a record level.
The value of these shipments reached €413.7 million, up a slightly smaller 7% on the year, as the average price fell back 1%. Within this, Irish export volumes to the EU were up 9% (+14,500 tonnes) on the year to represent 60% of all Irish pig meat exports, up from 57% last year.
The overall increase has largely been due to increased product availability, with pig slaughterings in Ireland up 4% in the in the first half of 2018 (+72,400 head). On top of this, pig meat and offal imports were reportedly up 44% on the year (+22,400 tonnes), further compounding the increasing supply, according to CSO Ireland.
The majority of the rise in imports was apparently driven by higher shipments of fresh/frozen pork, with deliveries from Germany reported to have escalated significantly (+11,200 tonnes). However, there are some doubts over the accuracy of these trade statistics, as German pork exports do not record a reciprocal rise in trade with Ireland. Nonetheless, other suppliers were recorded to have increased shipments by a more reasonable level, including the UK (+2,200 tonnes). This is despite the price differential between UK and Irish pig prices remaining high in the first half of 2018, at around 23p in sterling terms.
Within the total, there was a noticeable 26% increase (+4,900 tonnes) in exports of processed pig meat, suggesting production of these products has increased. This perhaps accounts for the higher import levels. The additional volumes were particularly exported to Denmark, probably for re-export, and Japan. Similarly, exports of sausages increased 35% year-on-year (+2,500 tonnes), with this additional product again primarily directed into Denmark, according to CSO statistics.
Conversely, exports of pig offal were down 5% in the first half of the year, at 13,000 tonnes. Volumes to the largest market, China, were down 16% to 7,000 tonnes. Shipments to Denmark also dropped sharply (-400 tonnes). However, the next largest Asian markets offered some respite, with exports to South Korea and the Philippines rising by around 900 tonnes altogether.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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