While the average global pork export price peaked in the third quarter of 2017, it has now begun a downward trend.
According to AHDB Pork analysis, based on the four largest global pork exporters (the EU, US, Canada and Brazil) the average value of pork traded peaked during July at $2.82/kg, the highest level since 2014. However, this had dropped 4% to $2.71/kg by September.
The turn in the pork export market comes as volumes of pork traded have been drifting downwards throughout 2017. In Q3, pork export volumes from the four largest exporters totalled 1.24 million tonnes, which was 4% below the previous quarter and 7% below year earlier levels. This largely reflects slower demand from China for imported pork this year, as their domestic production begins to recover.
The decline in Chinese import demand comes as pig meat production is also picking up globally. US pig meat production was 3% higher on 2016 levels for the year to end of October, and Canadian production was 2% higher over the same period. Meanwhile, EU production had been trending behind year earlier levels, but was on par with 2016 during July and August and reports suggest supplies have subsequently picked up further. With demand unable to keep pace with the growing supplies, global export prices have now started to come under downward pressure. This follows from a trend first reflected at farmgate level. The EU reference price first started to decline in July, and US pig prices also took a downwards turn around this time.
Looking forwards, further increases in global pork production are anticipated for 2018. Chinese production is expected to recover further, depressing import requirements, while production from the key exporting nations is also expected to increase. While growing domestic consumption, especially in the US, may be able to accommodate some of this extra pork, there is nonetheless likely to be more competition on global export markets next year. As such, further downwards price pressure might be anticipated, at least in the short term.