Lower pork imports into South Korea
At 287,800 tonnes, South Korean pork imports dropped by 2% in the first half of this year, compared with 2018.
This decline is not unexpected, as high import levels last year are thought to have built stock levels. Imports remained over 30,000 tonnes above 2017 levels though.
The US remained the primary supplier of pork, though imports were 4% down on last year (-3,900 tonnes). It has lost some market share to Spain, with these shipments growing by 20% (+7,500 tonnes). Spain has also picked up some of Belgium’s former trade, as this country was banned from supplying South Korea when ASF broke out in their wild boar herd in September last year.
The value of pork imports in the first half of the year totalled ₩964 billion, about the same as last year. This means the price of imported pork has been a little higher this year, reflecting higher global prices in response to China’s ASF-related demand. Higher prices may also be an import deterrent, especially if stock levels are sufficient.
Reports also indicate that Korean production has been expanding this year. Rabobank and the USDA both anticipate that production will be around 2% higher for the year overall. While imports will still make up over half of South Korea’s pork consumption, this growth also quells import demand.
There is some concern though that domestic production could be compromised by an ASF outbreak. ASF has now been confirmed in neighbouring North Korea. If the virus does make its way south, this could leave South Korea even more reliant on imports until the disease can be controlled.