UK pig meat production drops but imports and exports rise

UK pig meat production drops but imports and exports rise

UK pig meat production suffered a 2% decline on the year in June compared to the same month in 2016 – down to 72.3 thousand tonnes, due to a combination of drops in slaughtering and average carcase weights, according to the latest AHDB UK Pig Meat Market Update.

UK clean pig slaughterings in June were 2% lower at 845 thousand head, according to the latest data from Defra, taking them to 5.1 million head for the first half of 2017, or 6% lower than the same period last year.

AHDB notes that the decline reflects “the industry sentiment that UK pig meat supplies have been tight since the start of the year”, however, it is thought that the UK pig herd will recover during the second half of 2017, following an assumed contraction in the domestic breeding herd last year.

Sow slaughterings also marked a 7% decline in June to 21.6 thousand head, compared to the same period last year, while average clean pig slaughter weights in the month dropped for the fourth consecutive month to 81.9kg.

Overseas trade outlook

However, UK exports of fresh/frozen pork were up by 15% on the year to 19.1 thousand tonnes, according to the latest HMRC data, marking the first month since the start of the year that volumes have recorded an annual rise.

The increased average prices also led the value of May’s shipments to rise by nearly 40% on the year to £26.6 million.

According to AHDB, a rise in volumes shipped to European markets is the main driving force behind the overall increase, with exports to Denmark having risen by 38% to 2,650 tonnes and to Germany by 18% to 2,780 tonnes.

Exports to Poland plummeted to 20 tonnes on the year in May, however, shipments to China remained relatively stable on the year; Hong Kong imported 44% more British pork, at 330 tonnes, while exports to South Korea more than trebled to over 270 tonnes.

On a similar note, UK imports of frozen/fresh pork were on the rise on the year to May, up by 17% to 40.1 thousand tonnes – however, the increase was not primarily driven by Danish shipments.

A 45% increase in volumes shipped from Germany is noted as the “main driving force behind the overall rise in May”, according to AHDB, as imports from Denmark actually fell on the year to May by 6% to 12.6 thousand tonnes.

Pork consumption

Primary pork volume sales decreased by 3% year-on-year during the 12 weeks ending 18th June, according to Kantar Worldpanel, however a 5% increase in the average retail price meant that overall spend was up by 2%.

Roasting joints have recorded a continual decline in sales over the 12-week period, linked to reduced promotional activity seen this year, with shoulder roasting joints experiencing a sharp 22% fall.

With regard to processed products, total spend on bacon, sausages and sliced cooked meats in the same period was up by 3%, 2% and 3%, respectively.


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