UK pork trade: imports on the rise in August

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

Key points

  • Imports of pork have picked up month-on-month and year-on-year in August
  • Lower domestic production, increases in foodservice demand and competitive EU pricing supports import volumes
  • Higher imports likely to subdue market sentiment
  • Offal constitutes an impressive 44% of the export basket


Total pig meat imports to the UK in August were recorded at 65,600 t; this is an increase of 230 t compared with the previous month. Compared with August 2022, volumes have grown by 4,700 t. After being in decline for the first four months of 2023, imports have witnessed year-on-year growth since from May.

UK pork production continues to be impacted by the market conditions of the past two years as domestic supplies remain tight. The English pig population is currently at its lowest in over a decade.

The overall volumes of pig meat purchased through retail and food service has fallen by 1.3% year-on-year for the 52 weeks ending 3 September 2023 (AHDB estimates based on Kantar data). Retail volumes remain supressed, back 2.5% in volume terms. However, demand trends have diverged between foodservice and retail with volumes in foodservice growing by 7.2%. The foodservice sector generally has a greater weighting of non-British product, which may be a key factor driving imports.

Imports of fresh and frozen product, and bacon, increased, however sausages and processed pig meat imports declined month-on-month and year-on-year. Total fresh and frozen pork imports have seen the largest volume gain, up 23% year-on-year to 28,400 t. The bacon category also recorded an increase of 12% year-on-year, totalling 15,500 t and has resulted in the category increasing its market share of UK imports to 24%. Imports of higher-value products could dampen the market sentiment further.

pig meat imports_Aug23Exports

Total pigmeat exports in August totalled 24,000 t, 16% lower year-on-year. Shipments of fresh and frozen pork have seen the largest declines in volumes, down 24% year-on-year to 10,700 t. The volume of offal exports is only marginally behind that of fresh and frozen pork at 10,500 t taking up 44% of total market share. The market share of offal has increased year-on-year, aiding carcase balance, with China remaining the largest destination for this product. Bacon and processed pork exports declined by 19% and 9% to 1,100 t and 1,200 t respectively year-on-year.

As to be expected, shipments to all major trading partners were down year-on-year in August. Volumes sent to the EU and the Philippines were down 2,900 t and 1,400 t respectively, while China saw a smaller decline of 800 t year-on-year.  

The price differential between UK and EU product increased over the latest period, making UK product less competitive on the EU market. With the EU accounting for 45% of total UK pig meat exports this remains a key focus.

Lower consumer demand is also a limiting factor for export growth, as consumers adjust to inflationary pressures and the increased cost of living.

Higher production in Brazil, the USA and Vietnam continue to provide competitive options on the global market. Going forward, consumer demand, domestic production and competitive pricing will remain key watch points.

Pig meat exports_Aug23


Image of staff member Soumya Behera

Soumya Behera

Senior Analyst (Dairy)

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

Subscribe to receive pork market news straight to your inbox. Simply complete our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.