France pork exports up, imports down in 2019
During 2019, French pig meat production was up by around 1% (+19,000 tonnes). Pig meat export growth outstripped this through, posting a 10% increase (+50,000 tonnes carcase weight equivalent) for the year as a whole.
Export growth was strongest in the fourth quarter when demand from China as at its highest. Production also particularly increased in the third quarter, supporting subsequent supply availability, which had been relatively flat earlier in the year.
For the full year, growth came from exports to China, reflecting the shortage of pork resulting from the ASF crisis. This follows the trend seen across the EU. There was also a small increase in shipments to other EU markets.
The strong export market led to a tight supply situation in France, but this did not drive higher pig meat imports, which were down by 6% (-30,000 tonnes carcase weight equivalent). Over half was sourced from Spain, which shipped 7% less on the back of better opportunities on the Chinese market. Lower imports of fresh/frozen pork drove the overall decline (-8%). Meanwhile, sausage imports were actually up by 4%, with Spanish sausages growing 12%.
Exports of live pigs, mainly slaughter pigs, increased by 7% to 676,000 head, the highest level since 2013. This was primarily due to increased trade with Spain. Live imports were down 19% at 153,000 head.
Altogether, these trends point towards a reduction in French pork demand. This conclusion is also supported by French Kantar data; in 2019 fresh pork retail sales were 6% lower than the previous year and charcuterie sales were 2% lower.