Pork trade balance improves in December

Monday, 14 February 2022

UK pork exports totalled 16,900 tonnes in December 2021, this is up 1.5% from November but down 24% on the same month last year. This large decrease in the year-on-year change is mirrored in the annual total, with 192,700 tonnes of UK pork exported in 2021, down 25% on 2020 where the annual total was 258,400 tonnes.

One 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. 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 awash with pig meat due in part to its own reduced trade with China.

2021 change in pork exports

Imports of pork to the UK also fell 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.

In December 15,200 tonnes of boneless cuts were imported compared to 11,500 tonnes of bone-in cuts. Both boneless and bone-in imports are lower than they were in November (16,500 tonnes boneless and 14,200 tonnes bone-in) dropping 8% and 20% respectively. 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.

2021 boneless vs bone in pork trade

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 (50% of total UK exports), an increase of 17% from 2020.

Image of staff member Freya Shuttleworth

Freya Shuttleworth

Senior Analyst (Livestock)

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