New figures from HMRC show a 6% year-on-year increase in UK pork imports in April to 29,200 tonnes. Supplies were up from the majority of key suppliers, with the exception of Denmark (down 11%) and Ireland (down 23%).
However, these declines were more than offset by stronger trade with other EU countries. Imports from Germany increased by 14% on the year, making it the leading supplier for the second straight month, while shipments from the Netherlands and Belgium both increased by 19% on a year earlier.
Imports of bacon and ham also rose by 6% compared with April 2013, at 19,900 tonnes. Denmark and the Netherlands are the two main suppliers of bacon to the UK, and in April the Danes led the market with a 19% increase, while Dutch volumes were 4% down on the year.
There was a similar trend in sausages, imports of which rose by 12%, and other processed products, with volumes up 11% year on year. In both cases there was a rise in imports from Ireland, Poland and Germany, but lower Dutch shipments. UK pork exports showed a mixed picture in April, although overall shipments were almost unchanged at 15,100 tonnes.
Germany continued to lead the market, with trade up by 31% on a year earlier, recording the highest April figure since 2008. However, after a record month in March, shipments to China were down by a 20% on the year, meaning Ireland displaced it as the second most important export market during the month.
The drop in Chinese trade was replicated in other non-EU markets, with shipments down 23% overall. There was a clear downward trend for offal exports, a 35% decline compared with April 2013.
The significance of UK offal declined further on the EU market, where volumes fell by 45% year on year. However, unlike other recent months, offal shipments to China/Hong Kong also came down.