AHDB: UK pork imports on the rise in August
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.
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.
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