Germany increases role in pig meat trade within the EU

Thursday, 6 May 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

Analysis of trade figures shows a decline in the volume of pig meat (including offal) traded between the 27 EU member states in 2020. The precise figure is unclear due to some inconsistency between data from different countries. Export volumes totalled 6.2 million tonnes whereas import figures amount to 6.3 million tonnes, product weight. Either way, this is a 3% fall compared to the previous year. The total volume traded is over a quarter of total EU production and exceeds the annual output of Germany or Spain, the EU’s largest pig meat producers.

Almost two thirds of shipments came from the four largest exporters. Germany remained comfortably the leading seller to other member states as well narrowly being the largest importer. This highlights its central position in the EU pig market.

Germany actually narrowly increased shipments to other EU members last year (totalling 1.6 million tonnes), in contrast to the background of overall decline. This likely reflects the discovery of ASF in the German wild boar herd last September, which severely restricted export options outside of the EU. Belgium and the Netherlands were key recipients of more German product. Last year, 61% of German exports went to other EU countries, compared to 58% a year earlier.

An 11% fall in pig meat imported into Germany last year (totalling 977,000 tonnes) was also key to the overall fall in product traded.

Most countries followed the overall trend and exported less product to other member states last year. The trend was particularly noticeable from Spain, with exports falling by 7% to 1.0 million tonnes. This reflects product being diverted out of the EU towards the Chinese market.

Similarly, we saw the majority of countries taking lower volumes from fellow EU suppliers. Aside from Germany, Italy recorded the most significant fall in product received (-6% to 973,000 tonnes). Belgium reported a large rise in imports, seemingly due to more bacon arriving from Italy. This is not corroborated by the Italian export data and so should be viewed with caution.

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