UK pork imports “suggest” buyers are being tempted by EU/UK price gap

UK pork imports in March rose by 3% compared to March 2014, although bacon and sausage imports were both lower than last year, according to BPEX.

Quoting the latest data from HMRC, the 3% year-on-year increase in UK pork imports in March was based on higher volumes coming in from Denmark, Belgium and Spain. Shipments from Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland all fell, however.

“This is the second monthly rise in imports, suggesting the price difference between the UK and the rest of Europe was large enough to tempt some buyers,” said BPEX.

Continuing high supplies of pork in the EU and the weak euro led to the average unit price being 10% lower during the first quarter of 2015, compared to 2014, which resulted in the total value of UK imports falling 7% year on year.

In contrast to the volume increase in pork, bacon imports were down by 8% in March, with lower shipments seen from Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland, although purchases from Germany and Spain increased.

On the export front, UK pork shipments fell 12% in March, as the strength of the pound led to UK products being “less competitive on the global market”.

“Volumes going to all major markets fell, with the sharpest fall being to China, down 27%, making it the second largest market for UK pork,” said BPEX. “Exports to Germany also fell but by a more moderate 8%, meaning it overtook China as the largest destination for UK pork in March. Exports to Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Hong Kong also dropped.”

This meant export volumes from the UK in the first three months of the year were down 4% compared with the same period in 2014. The average unit price of shipments in March fell by 11%, reducing the total value of UK pork exports to £15.5 million, down 22% year on year.

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