End in view for growth of Irish pork exports

Ireland’s seven-year growth in pork exports looks set to come to an end later this year, according to an AHDB Pork analysis of declining sow numbers in the Republic.

Having more than doubled its pork exports total between 2009 and 2015, when 168,000 tonnes of pork left Ireland, the country’s trading expansion is “suggested” to be about stop.

“Last year’s increased exports were aided by a 9% rise in Irish production in 2015, with both higher slaughterings (+6%) and heavier weights (up over 2kg/head) contributing,” said AHDB Pork. “This followed expansion of the Irish breeding herd during 2014, coupled with improved health status.

“However, latest figures suggest a different trend is likely for 2016, with the Irish sow herd down 5% in 2015. This means production may well fall back in 2016, although this might be mitigated if carcase weights increase further.

“In turn, this suggests that the long-term growth in exports could end this year, at least temporarily.”

Around a third of Irish pork exports end up on the UK market, alongside 38,000 tonnes of processed Irish pigmeat products.

“With a less favourable exchange rate and narrowing gap between UK and Irish pig prices, this could reduce the amount of Irish pigmeat on the UK market (in 2016),” said AHDB Pork, adding that, although the effect on the UK is unlikely to be dramatic, it could provide some “much-needed support” to domestic prices.

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