UK pork exports were still strong in January

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

By Bethan Wilkins

UK pig meat exports (including offal) were up on the year again in January, following 12 months of consecutive growth. Within this, primary pork exports were up by 10%, and frozen alone was up by 17%. 

Growth in shipments to China, which reached 12,300 tonnes during the month, continued to dominate the overall trend. This was more than 50% higher than in January last year. Although trade with China remained higher than year earlier levels, shipments remained a few thousand tonnes behind the peak volumes seen in October and November.

Though still 21% above year earlier levels, average export prices fell back to £1.73/kg, having been over £1.90/kg at the end of 2019. The average price of product going to China fell from £1.87/kg in December to £1.59/kg in January. The release of Chinese pork stocks, and high import volumes over the previous months, meant Chinese import demand eased in the New Year. Reports suggest the market has remained relatively challenging for much of 2020 so far, due to the coronavirus epidemic. However, in recent weeks, some movement in trade has been reported.

During the month, UK pig meat imports were down 12% year-on-year. All the key suppliers reduced shipments. Shipments from France, though, were nearly a quarter higher than last January. Last year, imports were boosted by stockpiling efforts due to the risk of a no-deal Brexit at the end of March.

Most of the decline was driven by fresh/frozen pork shipments, which were 14% lower than in January last year. Processed pig meat imports also fell significantly.

Nonetheless, the amount spent on pig meat imports was still 8% higher than last year, at £210 million. Prices averaged £2.97/kg, compared to £2.42/kg last year.

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