Small increase in UK pig meat imports in December
Felicity Rusk, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (UK)
18 February 2021
Although UK imports of fresh and frozen pork declined in December, shipments of processed pig meat products increased. Meanwhile, UK exports of pig meat increased compared to the previous year.
For the second consecutive month, overall UK pig meat imports were a little higher than year earlier levels in December. However, this by no means compensated for the significant declines recorded earlier in the year.
The year-on-year increase was driven by growth from all the various processed pig meat products. Shipments of bacon and sausages were both up by 12% on the year. Processed hams reported an even larger 22% increase compared to December 2019. Some stockpiling before the change in trading relationship with the EU at the end of the year may have influenced these trends. In the year as whole, annual changes for these products were more mixed.
Nonetheless, UK imports of fresh and frozen pork continued to track below previous year levels in December. However, the extent of the decline was considerably less than recorded earlier in the year. Volumes totalled 34,500 tonnes, 5% less than in the previous year.
In the year overall, the UK imported 832,000 tonnes of pig meat (including offal), 9% less than in 2019, the equivalent to nearly 85,000 tonnes. The most significant annual declines came from the following suppliers:
Ireland -23,500 tonnes
Netherlands -23,200 tonnes
Denmark -14,300 tonnes
Belgium -10,300 tonnes
Spain -6,800 tonnes
The pandemic severally disrupted foodservice demand last year. According to data from Kantar, pork volumes at foodservice were just 46% of 2019 levels, which has likely particularly affected import demand.
For most pig meat products, average import prices continued to track below the previous year’s level in December. The extent of the decline was generally larger than seen over the past few months. For fresh/frozen pork in particular, import prices averaged £2.01/kg, 16% less than in the previous year. While lower EU prices and ample supplies might be expected to stimulate demand for imported product, the impact on actual volumes coming over does not seem to have been excessive so far. This is especially the case considering low import volumes across the year overall, despite the fact our estimates suggest pork consumption rose in 2020.
Overall, UK exports of pig meat increased in December. This is despite the fact that France shut its borders to the UK for a three-day period following the identification of a new variant of the coronavirus. Volumes of fresh and frozen pork totalled 22,300 tonnes, 27% more than in the previous year. Offal shipments also recorded strong year-on-year growth.
In the year overall, shipments of pig meat, including offal, increased by almost six per cent to 400,000 tonnes – worth £654 million compared to £610 million in 2019.
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