The research found that in the year to date, pig meat imports were 4% lower than in the same period in 2017, while exports were on a par with last year’s levels.
Some of this decline in September has been attributed by the pork division of the UK’s Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB Pork) to the price discount of European pigs to UK pigs reducing significantly in August, which has possibly deterred the importing of product from the EU in that month, and this situation continued into September. The discount between EU to UK prices was as low as 10.72p/kg in the week ending 2 September.
Fresh and frozen pork imports were reportedly 2% lower than in September 2017, at 35,300 tonnes (t). This is similar to the trend for the year so far, which showed pork imports have been 6% below last year.
Ireland and Spain proved to be the UK’s most prolific trade partners, having sent more pork to the UK during the month. Falling shipments from the Netherlands and Denmark were primarily responsible for the overall decline, dropping back 17% (800t) and 5% (600t) respectively.
Since September, EU prices have fallen faster than those in the UK. This may once again stimulate imports in the latter months of the year, and so put pressure on UK prices.
On the export side, the analysis found that fresh and frozen pork fell in September to 15,400t, a decline of 14% year-on-year. The year-to-date figure was also 3% down year-on-year for pork alone, despite stability for pig meat overall.
The value of pork exports fell by 5% to £209m in the year to September, reflecting a challenging global market. According to AHDB Pork, the decline in exports in September was almost entirely driven by a lack of shipments to Denmark during the month, product that is likely normally re-exported elsewhere. Some strong growth in exports to other destinations was recorded during the month. It suggested that the widely reported problems in China were starting to feed through, and UK exports in September rose by 24% (700t) year-on-year.
AHDB Pork also found that shipments to the US also doubled (+500t), which it said was “particularly encouraging as this is a high value market for UK product”.