Flat Irish pig meat exports, despite rising production
In the first quarter of 2019, Ireland exported 69,600 tonnes of pig meat and offal, mostly unchanged from 2018. The value of these exports was up 4% to €202.7 million euros, reflecting a move towards exporting higher value hams.
Despite the flat exports, pig meat production increased by 1% (+1,000 tonnes) year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, totalling 79,000 tonnes. This suggests a greater domestic supply availability in Ireland. Adding to this, Ireland also appears to have imported around 4,000 tonnes more pig meat and offal in the first quarter of the year. However, this is particularly due to a substantial increase in imports from the UK, which does not reflect the UK export data. While it is possible that more imports were ordered prior to the original Brexit date at the end of March, these figures should be taken with caution.
Around 54% of exports went to the EU compared to 58% last year. Exports to China have increased by 20% in volume (+3,000 tonnes) and 23% in value (+€4.8 million) on average. This is unsurprising considering the ongoing African Swine Fever Situation. The product is primarily frozen pork and offal. We might expect to see growth to China continue as the year moves on.
Exports to a number of key EU destinations were down year-on-year. Shipments to Denmark were down by 23% (-1,200 tonnes).
Live pig exports amounted to 110,200 head in the first quarter of the year, according to CSO Ireland. The value of this trade was €14.1 million. The pigs were almost all shipped across the border to Northern Ireland, but fewer pigs have been transported this year. This will have supported Irish production levels since the pig herd has been declining. Irish pig prices have been climbing more rapidly than UK prices since March, which may have discouraged exports.