UK pig meat exports remain stable despite challenges

Overall UK exports of pig meat and offal in March remained at similar levels to year earlier, at 33,500 tonnes, marking a small decline of 1% on the same month last year, AHDB’s Bethan Wilkins has reported.

For fresh/frozen pork, shipments totalled 20,400 tonnes, a 5% decline compared to March 2020 – a smaller annual decline compared to those reported earlier in 2021.

“Falling shipments to a variety of previously important EU destinations were the cause of the decline,” aid Ms Wilkins. “Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark were particularly affected.”

Data shows France becoming the second largest destination for fresh/frozen pork, having previously been a minor recipient, although this likely represents a logistical change in the way product is now being moved to EU countries from the UK, and may not indicate the final destination of the pork being exported.

Shipments to non-EU destinations were significantly higher than the year before, with a rise of 40%. This was led by a spike in demand from the Philippines, where trade was nine times higher than in 2020. Shipments to China also increased by 13% to 11,500 tonnes.

The value of fresh/frozen pork exports was a little higher than last year in March, totalling £37 million, a 3% increase.

Offal exports were 30% up on the year in March, at 12,000 tonnes, with increases to both Asian and EU markets. Exports to China rose to 6,500 tonnes (+20%), and shipments to the Philippines rose by nearly 75% (to 1,100 tonnes).

Sausage and processed exports remained extremely depressed during March compared to 2020 levels, although volumes were relatively small to begin with.

Ms Wilkins also noted that Imports of pig meat (and offal) were down by 15% in March compared with a year earlier, totalling 61,300 tonnes.

“Low European pork prices early in the year don’t appear to have provided much stimulus to import volumes. Average import prices were lower than the month last year though compared to February there was a slight increase,” she said.

Overall, the value of imported pig meat was down by 21% at £172.6 million. All pig meat products, apart from offal, recorded lower import volumes than last year.

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