EU pig meat trade higher in April, but Chinese volumes ease

Thursday, 12 August 2021

EU pig meat exports remained above year-ago levels in April, continuing the strength seen since the start of the year.

According to data from the EU Commission, the EU exported 528,400 tonnes of pig meat (including offal) during April, 6% more than the same month a year ago. Shipments of most products increased. Fresh and frozen pork shipments grew 10% year-on-year to 348,900 tonnes, while bacon and processed products also rose in volume. Exports of sausage and offal products decreased on the year, driven by lower volumes sent to the UK and China, respectively.

Looking at total pig meat (including offal), the majority of the annual rise in volumes in April was driven by increased shipments to the Philippines and Vietnam. Volumes to these countries were over 12x and 5x higher than the volume recorded in April 2020, respectively. Spain appeared to be the main driver of increased EU shipments to the Philippines, while Germany drove increased Vietnamese volumes, following Vietnam lifting the ban on German pork in March. Rabobank expects that these countries will continue to draw increased volumes in the third quarter of 2021.

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Shipments of pig meat to China fell by 7% year-on-year in April, having been running above year-ago levels from January to March. This is the first year-on-year decline in monthly EU pig meat exports to China in over two years. Despite the overall decline, exports from Spain were up 36% year-on-year, continuing the success in Spain → China pork trade seen so far in 2021. However, this was not enough to outweigh a lack of volumes from Germany, due to the ongoing ASF-related ban.

For the year-to-date (Jan-Apr), total EU exports of pig meat (incl. offal) reached 2.19 million tonnes, 19% above the same period a year ago. Stronger exports had been supporting EU pig prices until recently. However, prices have been softening over the past month or so, not helped by higher EU production and lower pork demand from EU foodservice. The lower shipments to China in April also confirm reports that import demand there is weakening, with lower pig prices there a potential deterrent for imports.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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