UK pig meat export volume back in decline in April

Thursday, 17 June 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

Exports

In contrast to the previous month, UK exports of pig meat (and offal) returned to decline in April, totalling 31,000 tonnes. This was a 5% decline on the same month last year.

Looking at fresh/frozen pork specifically, volumes totalled 18,300 tonnes, an 11% decline on a year earlier. China and Germany were the main drivers behind this decline, with shipment levels down 26% (-2,800 tonnes) and 81% (-2,500 tonnes) respectively. Sow slaughter did decline in April, which would affect volumes exported to Germany, however a decline this large probably reflects a change in exporting logistics. It is clear that France is now being recorded as the destination for a large portion of UK exports to the EU, even if product is subsequently moved elsewhere within the trading bloc. With this in mind, shipments to France were nearly ten times higher than last year, totalling 2,300 tonnes, while trade with the Netherlands and Denmark also fell to minimal volumes.

One bright spot was trade with the Philippines, which rose from negligible volumes in 2020 to 1,900 tonnes during the month this year.

Despite the decline in volumes, the value of UK fresh/frozen pork exports was similar to the year before, at £35.6 million. Strong prices for shipments to China meant that the value of this market only fell by 15% year-on-year, despite the sharper drop in volumes being shipped. The increased trade with the Philippines could compensate for this decline.

In contrast, offal exports continued to be above year earlier levels in April, increasing by 12% to 10,400 tonnes. The Philippines was a main driver of this growth, rising to 8% of all shipments, having been less than 3% last year. There was also a substantial rise in exports to the Netherlands.

Overall pig meat export value totalled £54.3 million during the month, a 3% increase on last year.

Imports

Imports of pig meat were 2% down on April 2020, totalling 57,700 tonnes. The overall value of these imports was £171.6 million, a 3% fall on the year.

For fresh/frozen pork specifically, imports were stable at 24,800 tonnes. The UK pig price premium dropped to under 10p/kg in late March and throughout April, which may have helped stabilise import levels, which had previously been falling. There was also a particularly sharp drop in imports last April, related to the pandemic. Average import prices were down on April 2020 and so the value of fresh/frozen pork imports reflected this, falling by 15% compared to last year to £54.3 million.

A 15% decline in imports of processed hams, particularly from Germany, was the primary driver of the slight overall drop in pig meat imports.

Image of staff member Bethan Wilkins

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

See full bio

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