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More than half of UK pork exports went to China in April

22nd Jun 2020 / By Alistair Driver

For the first time ever, China accounted for nore than half of UK fresh and frozen pork exports in April. 

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on global economies, overall UK pigmeat exports grew by 3% year-on-year in April, with fresh/frozen pork exports up 2% year-on-year to 20,500 tonnes albeit smaller year-on-year growth than seen in previous months.

China continues to drive the healthy export trade, taking over 50% of the total at 10,600 tonnes.

AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins said: “Although this market has perhaps not been as accessible or lucrative as anticipated before the coronavirus pandemic escalated, shipments have remained strong and prices are still high in historic terms."

UK export prices Ap 20

There was a declining trend among EU markets with Ireland and the Netherlands purchasing less UK pork. Exports of sausages in April recorded a very strong increase on the year, apparently due to rising trade with Ireland, which was over five times higher than last year.

Pig offal exports also remained strong, with 5% growth on the year. China again provided the support (+32% year-on-year), although falling volumes to other destinations, including the Philippines and the EU, slowed the overall pace.

Overall export value stood at £53.2 million in April, 18% more than last year.

Over the first four months of the year, UK pigmeat exports were up 2% year-on-year with fresh-frozen shipments 7% higher, partly countered by falls in bacon and offal sales. 

UK trade april


UK fresh/frozen pork imports continued to fall in April. Frozen shipments in particular were down by 63% (-7,000 tonnes). Fresh/chilled product also dropped by 20% (-6,000 tonnes).

The figures appear to indicate weaker demand for European products as a result of foodservice closures. The only supplier to send greater volumes than last year was Germany, with these imports up 11% (+800 tonnes).

Ms Wilkins added: “Processed meat imports were more similar to year earlier levels, with Poland and Spain in particular sending more. This was somewhat counteracted by falling volumes from the Ireland, Germany and Denmark though."

Import prices remain higher than year earlier levels, so the value of imports overall was only down 12% on the year, at £186.6 million.