Dutch pork exports flat despite rising production
In 2018, the Netherlands exported 902,100 tonnes of fresh/frozen pork, barely changing from 2017. This was despite higher Dutch production; provisional data from Eurostat shows an 8% (+112,500 tonnes) increase in 2018. Exports are crucial for the Dutch pig industry as it is over 200% self-sufficient. The value of these exports was also lower, amounting to €1.8 billion, down 5% on 2017.
The majority of pork exports were destined for the EU market, but most of the key destinations reduced purchases. Poland was a noticeable exception.
In contrast, there were large increases in exports to many non-EU markets. Exports to Japan doubled compared to the previous year, although unusually low volumes were reported in 2017. Shipments to South Korea and Australia also increased. Exports to China picked up later in the year (+20% year-on-year from July-December) but were still down 6% from 2017 overall.
One of the reasons for higher Dutch production last year was a 6% decrease in the number of live pigs exported, at 11.0 million head. This was particularly due to lower German purchases of slaughter pigs. Weaner exports were actually still 6% higher than the previous year, due to a huge increase in demand from Spain.
Considering higher domestic production and a stable export market, the Netherlands unsurprisingly reduced pork imports last year. At 229,300 tonnes, volumes were 49,700 tonnes (18%) less than 2017. Nonetheless, this still suggests a rise in domestic consumption, or pork in storage.
The flat export market suggests conditions were challenging for the Dutch industry last year. Indeed, the Dutch pig reference price averaged €20/100kg lower than in 2017. The domestic sow herd was subsequently down 9% on the previous year in December, so this high level of domestic production is not expected to continue. However, higher demand is also expected this year due to China’s battle with African Swine Fever. This points towards a tighter market and price support.
Jennie Tanner, Analyst
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