According to Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork data recently released, both Ireland and Germany have seen their pork sectors impacted by supply and the Asian market.
The AHDB research found that German pig meat production in 2019 was down about 2% (-117,000 tonnes) on the year before while the Irish market saw a 4% decline in exports of pig meat during the year.
Total EU pig meat production was down by 1% year-on-year resulting in tighter supply availability.
These tight EU-wide supplies lead to a small fall in pig meat imports to Germany while Denmark was also particularly affected. Within total imports, primary pork declined more significantly, falling by 6%. Trade in cured and processed products was less subdued, declining by only 1%.
Shipments to China from Germany were up by 61%, now making up over 20% of German trade. Ireland also saw a substantial (+47%) increase in trade with China in 2019.
AHDB Pork senior analyst Bethan Wilkins said “these trends reflect strong demand for pig meat in China, which is facing an acute shortage due to the ongoing ASF crisis”.
In Ireland, primary pork drove the overall decline, with exports down 8% year-on-year. Exports of processed products, which are primarily destined for the UK, were also 1% down although 12% less total product was shipped to the UK.
AHDB Pork added that Irish Central Statistics Office figures indicated that the number of pigs in Ireland in December 2019 totalled 1.61 million, 3% more than a year earlier. However warned that the figures for December 2018 recorded a 3% year-on-year decline, even though slaughter last year was stable.
Consumer demand falters
AHDB Pork also reported that consumer demand within the EU has been “subdued”. In Germany, pork retail sales volumes during 2019 were 10% lower than in 2018. Wilkins said: “This is partly due to the extremely hot summer reducing barbeque demand. However, reports also suggest there has been increasing criticism of meat consumption, and meat substitutes are becoming more popular. An ageing, health-conscious population, and an increase in eating-out, may also have negatively affected retail sales.”