The increase in EU pigmeat exports driven by demand from China continued until March 2017. The expected decline began in April, with a 23 % drop in EU exports compared with March 2017 and a 30% drop compared with April 2016. There were 3 main factors: rising EU prices, which make EU pigmeat less competitive on export markets; a fall in China’s overall import demand (-14 % in April); and the temporary suspension (now lifted) of licences for export to China of 2 major German processors. Canada has benefited most from the situation, becoming the second largest exporter to China in April, after Spain, with 20 300 t (a 19 % share, 96 % up on the previous year). However, in late May China detected ractopamine, the banned growth promoter, in a shipment of pigs’ feet from Canada, which may lead to at least a temporary ban on Canadian exports. The exports to China of all leading EU exporters fell in April. Denmark’s share fell to 7.5 %, Germany’s to 8 %, the Netherlands’s to 8 % (down from 22 % in the first 3 months of 2017) and Spain’s to 21 %.
The first quarter of 2017 saw significant growth in exports to other destinations, such as Japan (+9 %), Hong Kong (+42 %), South Korea (+39 %), the US (+21 %) and Australia (+8 %). However, the trend became negative in April (-24 % aggregated for the 5 countries, compared to March, and -13 %, compared with a year previously). Overall, even if world demand for pigmeat in 2017 is expected to be similar to the previous year, EU pigmeat exports will be affected (-9 %) by falling availability and the associated higher internal prices. This makes other major exporters, i.e. the US, Canada and Brazil, more competitive. In the case of Brazil, it will depend on what happens as a result of the meat scandal. Although China lifted the associated restrictions in March, and Hong Kong has also done so in part, Brazilian exports still fell in April by 59 % (China) and 41 % (Hong Kong), compared with the previous year. The fall in EU pigmeat exports is expected to be smaller in 2018 (-2 %), thanks to a small increase in production (assuming that the Russian import ban on sanitary grounds brought in March 2014 remains effective until 2018, thereby making trade impossible).
Wednesday July 12, 2017/ DG Agriculture/ European Union.