UK pork exports fell 25% in 2021 as decreasing Chinese demand impacts global market

The latest trade data from HMRC up to the end of December 2021 has shown that total UK pork exports for the year were 197,700 tonnes – down 25% on 2020 when exports totalled 258,400 tonnes.

UK pork exports totalled 16,900 tonnes in December 2021, up 1.5% from November but down 24% on the same month last year.

A persistent driver influencing this steep decrease in exports is the change in the Chinese market.

“China has been importing less pork since managing to rebuild its own pig herd and this has had a knock on effect on global trade,” commented Freya Shuttleworth, analyst for dairy and livestock at AHDB.

UK to China pork exports were 6,600 tonnes in December 2021, just under half the amount for the same time the previous year (11,400 tonnes).

UK to EU annual pork exports were also down 40% year-on-year, as Europe is also oversupplied with pig meat due in part to its own reduced trade with China.

2021 change in pork exports

UK exports of offal increased by 21% in 2021, totalling 128,500 tonnes. China remains the biggest single market for offal and took delivery of 64,500 tonnes from the UK in 2021, an increase of 17% from 2020.


Imports of pork to the UK also dropped over the year with 27,500 tonnes imported in December 2021, down 13% from November and 20% lower than the same time the previous year.

The year total for pork imports in 2021 was 320,100 tonnes a decline of 13% from 2020.

Compared to 2020 the annual total of imported boneless pork has increased by 1% and the total amount of bone-in pork has dropped by 27%.

“This suggests we are making use of butchery capacity abroad to get the cuts of pork required for the UK market, in an attempt to decrease the butchery workload at home,” said Ms Shuttleworth.

2021 boneless vs bone in pork trade


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