Big rise in EU pork exports

By Oscar Rousseau contact

- Last updated on GMT

Continued pork demand in China has driven improved market conditions
Continued pork demand in China has driven improved market conditions

Related tags: Pork producers, European union, Pork, International trade

The strong growth of EU pig meat exports, particularly to high-margin markets China and Hong Kong, is lifting the troubled sector out of its oversupply crisis.

Exports of pork from Eurozone states have followed June’s strong performance with shipments of 189,0000 tonnes (t) up 31% on last year’s figures for July. The strong growth, driven by evergreen pork producers Spain, Denmark and Germany, has given renewed optimism to industry followers, many of whom believe the sector has weathered the worst of this year’s storm.

Earlier in the year pork was in a crisis: Europe was left with a glut of pork as falling demand for pig meat was further hit by the loss of Russia’s €1.4bn market. This led Europe to launch a private storage aid scheme​ to help pork producers store meat that would normally have gone to other markets.

UK levy board AHDB Pork expects pork supplies to tighten for the short and longer term, with both breeding and finishing herds expected to be behind last year’s levels. Despite this, the rise in exports have given way to a sense of cautious optimism in the sector.

Shock recovery

The pork market is starting to show signs of recovery but remains in a fragile state,​” said Copa president Martin Merrild during a conference on red tape surrounding Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments.

The improvement is partly due to increased demand from China​. Pork prices have increased, but are still behind last year. We need to find more new export outlets so that we are not totally dependent on the Chinese market. We also need to see the increase last for a year for pork producers to recover losses​”.

Hong Kong is one market that is proving fruitful for European meat shippers. Exports to the semi-autonomous state increased by 51% year-on-year in July, according to AHDB Pork.

Hong Kong is somewhat of a hub for EU pork to be re-exported into growing Far Eastern markets, so with the continued success of these export destinations, this has had a positive knock on effect in the volume of pork being shipped to Hong Kong,​” said AHDB Pork senior analyst Vikki Campbell.

The Philippines and the US also increased imports of EU pork, rising by more modest levels of 11% and 5%, whilst shipments to Japan dropped by 2%.

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