Pork trade balance improves in December

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UK pork exports totaled 16,900 tonnes in December 2021, up 1.5% from November but down 24% from the same month last year. This sharp decline in year-on-year variation is reflected in the annual total, with 192,700 tonnes of UK pork exported in 2021, down 25% from 2020 when the annual total was 258,400 tonnes .

One of the drivers of this sharp decline in exports is the evolution of the Chinese market. China is importing less pork since successfully rebuilding its own pig herd, which has had a ripple effect on global trade. UK pork exports to China stood at 6,600 tonnes in December 2021, just under half the amount recorded in the same period the year before (11,400 tonnes). Annual UK pork exports to the EU have also fallen by 40% year-on-year as Europe is awash in pork partly due to its own reduced trade with China.

UK pork imports have also fallen over the year with 27,500 tonnes imported in December 2021, down 13% from November and 20% from the same period a year earlier. Total annual pork imports in 2021 were 320,100 tonnes, down 13% from 2020.

In December, 15,200 tons of boneless cuts were imported against 11,500 tons of bone-in cuts. Boneless and bone-in imports are lower than in November (16,500 boneless tonnes and 14,200 boneless tonnes), down 8% and 20% respectively. Compared to 2020, the annual total of imported boneless pork increased by 1% and the total quantity of bone-in pork fell by 27%. This suggests that we are using butchery capacity overseas to source the cuts of pork needed for the UK market, with the aim of reducing butchery workload in the country.

2021 boneless vs bone in the pork trade

UK offal exports increased by 21% in 2021 to 128,500 tonnes. China remains the largest single market for offal and received 64,500 tonnes from the UK in 2021 (50% of total UK exports), a 17% increase on 2020.

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