Korean demand for imported pork has fallen, likely as a result of the pandemic impacting foodservice, as South Korea suffers record high cases following difficulty containing the more Covid-19 Delta variant.
In the first half of 2021, imports of pig meat and offal were 6% lower than the same period the previous year, totalling 224,000 tonnes, and resulting in the lowest H1 import volume since 2014, according to Global Trade Data and reported by AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins.
Despite maintaining a market share of nearly 40%, imports from the US fell back by 17% to 87,100 tonnes. Germany, previously a key supplier to South Korea, was banned last year due to the presence of African Swine Fever within its borders.
Other EU suppliers increased volumes, with shipments from Spain up by over 50% to 35,600 tonnes, volumes from the Netherlands (14,400 tonnes) and Austria (11,900 tonnes) more than doubled while supplies from Denmark more than trebled (14,300 tonnes). Altogether, shipments from the EU were down by 2% at 91,000 tonnes.
Ms Wilkins said that it was uncertain how demand would play out for the rest of the year, but that a recent USDA forecast anticipates an 8% rise in South Korean pork imports for 2021.
She said: “If realised, this could provide a welcome opportunity for EU pork exporters, and help mitigate some of the difficulties associated with declining Chinese demand. In June alone, imports were 11% higher than last year, at 38,500 tonnes.”