French pork exports now turning to decline
In the first nine months of 2018, French pork exports increased by 12,700 tonnes (4%) year-on-year, to total 319,000 tonnes.
However, exports in the third quarter actually fell 7% compared to year earlier levels. Despite some volume growth early in the year, the total value of French pork exports for the January-September period totalled €559.3 million, down 8% on the year.
The changing fortunes of EU shipments have been responsible for the downturn in export performance. Shipments to other EU member states grew by 8% for the nine month period overall, with the growth primarily driven by Italy. However, in the third quarter volumes turned to a 10% decline. Despite the downturn, Italy remained the main destination for French pork during this period, but volumes were down 13% year-on-year to just under 24,000 tonnes (24% of total shipments). French pork destined for Hungary also declined by over 50% in the third quarter (-2,500 tonnes), whilst Croatia recorded a drop of almost 60% compared to the same period in 2017.
In contrast, the Chinese market improved for EU pork producers as the year progressed. Shipments from France were up by 2% (+200 tonnes) in quarter three, compared with a 5% (-1,700 tonnes) decline across the January-September period. The Philippines has also become an increasingly successful growth market, and moved its position to the third largest market for French pork in the third quarter, overtaking the UK in the process.
Imports of pork into France for the first nine months of the year also increased, compared to the previous year, by over 4% (+9,100 tonnes). However again, the trend reversed in quarter three, recording an annual decline of 7% (-4,900 tonnes). Whilst shipments from Spain were up 6% (in the year to September, this turned to a 7% (-3,700) decline in more recent months.
The average price of imports was 9% lower in the first nine months of the year overall, so the overall value of imports across the same period totalled €553.8 million, 5% down on the year.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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