UK trade update: China continues to drive strong UK pork exports

Thursday, 18 June 2020

By Bethan Wilkins

Exports

Despite reports of difficulties, UK fresh/frozen pork exports remained strong in April, with shipments up 2% on the year at 20,500 tonnes. This was a smaller year-on-year growth than previous months though.

China remained the leading destination for UK exports, taking over 50% of the total for the first time at 10,600 tonnes. Although this market has perhaps not been as accessible or lucrative as anticipated before the coronavirus pandemic escalated, shipments have remained strong and prices are still high in historic terms.

Among EU markets, there was a declining trend, with Ireland and the Netherlands particularly purchasing less UK pork.

Exports of sausages in April recorded a very strong increase on the year, apparently due to rising trade with Ireland, which was over five times higher than last year. Such a sharp increase should be viewed with caution; however, Irish import figures do suggest sausage shipments from the UK were about 25% higher during the month.

Pig offal exports also remained strong, with 5% growth on the year. China again provided the support (+32% year-on-year), though falling volumes to other destinations, including the Philippines and the EU, slowed the overall pace.

Overall export value stood at £53.2 million in April, 18% more than last year.

Imports

UK fresh/frozen pork imports continued to fall in April. Frozen shipments in particular were down by 63% (-7,000 tonnes), but fresh/chilled product also dropped by 20% (-6,000 tonnes). The figures suggest weaker demand for European products, no doubt affected by foodservice closures. The only supplier to send greater volumes than last year was Germany, with these imports up 11% (+800 tonnes).

Processed meat imports were more similar to year earlier levels, with Poland and Spain in particular sending more. This was somewhat counteracted by falling volumes from the Ireland, Germany and Denmark though.

Import prices remain higher than year earlier levels, so the value of imports overall was only down 12% on the year, at £186.6 million.

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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