Latest data confirm that the UK imported six per cent less fresh and frozen pork in 2012 than in 2011. The decline was largely the result of tighter supplies in the rest of the EU, with production down by around two per cent. The decline affected some of the UK’s leading suppliers, such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium. These falls were partly offset by increased shipments from Germany and Spain, with the former becoming the second largest supplier. In December, shipments were down by nine per cent year on year, mainly the result of a fall of over a third in Danish supplies. Most other major suppliers actually increased their volumes somewhat, although this was insufficient to fully offset the lack of Danish pork.
Bacon and ham imports were also lower in 2012, down by eight per cent overall, with shipments lower from all three major suppliers, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. The decline in the final month of the year was even sharper, with shipments down 13 per cent. The falls in pork and bacon imports have largely been offset by increased volumes of processed pig meat. For the year as a whole, sausage imports were up seven per cent and other processed shipments by 41 per cent. However, growth in both these categories slowed as the year progressed and in December, sausage imports were five per cent down on a year earlier, while processed pig meat shipments were unchanged.
The strong recent export performance of fresh and frozen pork continued in December, with shipments up 18 per cent year on year. As in recent months, China was the key growth market, taking the second largest volume of UK exports for the second consecutive month. As a result of this, pork exports for the year as a whole were up seven per cent, with most of the growth in the second half of the year, after the Chinese market was opened; growth in the first half of the year was only two per cent. This meant that 2012 was the best year for UK pork exports since 2000.
However, the increase in pork exports was more than offset by a sharp decline in shipments of bacon and ham. These were less than half their level in 2011, with all leading markets taking much less product. This pattern continued in December, with exports down by 62 per cent. However, there was a more positive picture for exports of processed pig meat products, which were up by a third, and, more significantly, offal. Offal shipments rose by more than a quarter for the year as a whole. The main driver was increased demand from other EU countries, which was up 82 per cent, likely for use in manufactured products or for re-export. Shipments in December were up only one per cent, perhaps because of lower manufacturing demand once Christmas orders had been fulfilled.
March 2013/ BPEX/ United Kingdom.