UK pig meat exports falter under difficult market conditions

After experiencing signs of recovery following the initial difficulties posed by Brexit, UK pig meat exports have once again been struggling in more difficult market conditions, according to a report from AHDB lead analyst Duncan Wyatt.

UK exports of pig meat (not including offal) fell by 41% year on year in July, to 16,200 tonnes. This was significantly impacted by volumes exported to the EU falling by 43%, where the price of pigs has been falling rapidly in the face of market oversupply.

UK exports to the key market of China also fell to 5,900 tonnes (-54% year on year). Mr Wyatt said that whilst recovery in the Chinese herd has stalled and the country’s domestic production will likely be volatile in the future, wholesale prices in China are now at levels not seen since before the widespread African Swine Fever outbreak, resulting in a weak import demand.

For the year to July, the UK has exported 129,800 tonnes of pig meat, a drop of 22% year on year. This is despite a 7% increase in pig meat production in the same period, with lower imports largely making up the difference.

Mr Wyatt said on imported meat to the UK: “While not quite a last year’s levels, pig meat imports have been recovering more smoothly. This trend will have been helped by the reopening of the foodservice sector here, and heavily discounted prices for pork on the continent.”

In July, the UK imported 58,100 tonnes of pig meat, 1% less than a year ago. This brings the year to date total to 387,800 tonnes, 11% lower than in 2020.

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