Pig meat trade down in January as Brexit brings port disruption

UK exports of pig meat (including offal) fell by nearly half in January compared to the same period the previous year, dropping to only 15,600 tonnes, according to data from HMRC

The decline was largely driven by a fall in exports to the EU, which were only 2,500 tonnes, a reduction of 13,000 tonnes (-84%) year on year, supporting widespread reports of disruption due to increased administrative requirements, and inspections at EU ports.

It is apparent, according to an AHDB report, that some pig meat exporters shipped increased volumes in the later months of 2020, likely in anticipation of difficulties or the possibility of tariffs in the New Year and would offset some of January’s losses.

AHDB said: “We know that those attempting to export face an increased administrative burden, but we don’t know how many of them deferred exports until the processes became clearer. It may also take some time to establish how much trade is lost longer term, from companies that no longer find it profitable to export at all.

Imports of pig meat from the EU were also down despite the lower level of scrutiny at the UK border. Import volumes fell by 30,000 tonnes (-41%) year on year, to only 42,600 tonnes in January.

AHDB noted that there are some inconsistencies between UK trade figures and those reported by its trading partners, and so this initial release of trade figures should be viewed with some caution.

This is likely due to a change in the way HMRC collects trade data as of January 2021, which will be reflected in the trade statistics. Comparisons between this and historic data should may be subject to future revisions.

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