Korean imports of pig meat down, as demand remains challenged

Thursday, 12 August 2021

It seems that Korean demand for imported pork remains constrained, with the pandemic likely still to be limiting foodservice demand, an important market for foreign pork.

In the first half of 2021, imports of pig meat and offal were 6% lower than last year, totalling 224,000 tonnes. This was the lowest Jan-Jun import volume since 2014.

While still holding a market share of nearly 40%, imports from the US fell back by 17% to 87,100 tonnes. High prices for US pork, driven by strong domestic demand and tighter supplies, are a major contributing factor to this.

Germany had previously been a key supplier to South Korea, but was banned last year due to the presence of African Swine Fever within its borders. Other EU suppliers have increased volumes and compensate for this to some extent. Shipments from Spain were up by over 50% to 35,600 tonnes, volumes from the Netherlands (14,400 tonnes) and Austria (11,900 tonnes) more than doubled while supplies from Denmark more than trebled (14,300 tonnes). Altogether, shipments from the EU were down by 2% at 91,000 tonnes.

 

The UK has traditionally not had much foothold in the South Korean market. Volumes have picked up this year from negligible levels, totalling 2,400 tonnes, about 1% of the total volume imported.

Progress in combatting Covid-19 will be key for import demand going forward. South Korea has recently seen record high cases as it has had difficulty containing the more transmissible Delta variant. It is therefore uncertain how demand will play out for the rest of the year. Nonetheless, last month the USDA forecast an 8% rise in South Korean pork imports for 2021 overall, on the back of an expected 2% decline in domestic production. If realised, this could provide a welcome opportunity for EU pork exporters, and help mitigate some of the difficulties associated with declining Chinese demand. In June alone, imports were 11% higher than last year, at 38,500 tonnes.

 

Image of staff member Bethan Wilkins

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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