2020 pork imports volumes fall as exports rise

UK pig meat imports, including offal, were 12% down on 2019 levels during the first 10 months of this year, while overall pork exports increased in volume by 3%, driven by shipments to China.

During October, the UK recorded a reduction in pig meat imports from all of the major suppliers compared with the same month a year, following the wider trend of the year to date. Import volumes of all pig meat products were lower than last year during the month.

The value of pig meat imports fell in-line with the drop in volume during October, falling by 18% to total £194 million. Processed hams and primary fresh/frozen pork have seen prices fall recently, but average bacon and sausage import prices remain above 2019 levels, despite low EU farmgate prices, AHDB analyst Charlie Reeve said.

Total pig meat imports for the first 10 months of 2020 were valued at £2 billion, a decrease of 4% on the previous year.

Exports

When offal is included, UK pig meat exports were 3% up during the first 10 months of the year, with shipments to China up a huge 43%, but exports to other destinations, including Ireland (-14%) and Germany (-3%) falling.

Exports were still slightly higher year-on-year for October. Offal exports were nearly 50% higher than October last year, at 10,800 tonnes. This was also 13% higher than October 2018, with shipments to China and Hong Kong driving the overall increase.

Conversely, exports of fresh/frozen primary pork were 9% lower than last year at 23,000 tonnes. Although exports to China were still 17% higher than last year, volumes to most other destinations declined.

“China is currently working to rebuild its domestic pig herd, which may ultimately start to limit the amount of UK exports sent to the region in the future,” Mr Reeve said.

Pig meat (including offal) exports were valued at £62 million during October, a decline of nearly 4% year-on-year, despite the increase in export volumes. This reflects both a decline in average prices for fresh/frozen pork compared to last year, and an increase in the proportion of exports that were lower-value offal products.

“Nonetheless, despite not reaching the highs of last year, average export prices across pig meat and offal products during October were still the highest since March,” Mr Reeve added.

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.