BELGIUM, Brussels. Export revenues reached a new record level in the first quarter. Exports to Japan, Korea and Great Britain declined.
It was only thanks to extensive deliveries to China that the European Union's pork exports in the first quarter of 2020 exceeded the previous year's level. According to data from the EU Commission, a total of 1.40 mill. t of pork from the 27 member states, including slaughter by-products, were sold to third countries; this was 57,080 t or 4.2% more than in the period from January to March 2019. Due to the higher prices, the growth in export revenues was much stronger, rising by € 874 mill. or one third to € 3.50 bn. Export earnings have never been higher in the first quarter of the year.
The moderate increase in export volumes was almost exclusively due to booming exports to China. In the first quarter of 2020, a good 756,000 t of pork were shipped from the Community to the People's Republic, an increase of 325,250 t or almost 76% over the same period last year. Around 54% of EU sales of pork were thus to customers in China. They paid € 1.67 bn. for the goods, which meant that export revenues were € 1.04 bn. or 166% higher than in the first quarter of the previous year. According to analysts, however, sales prices fell in the second quarter of 2020 because China is once again producing more pigs itself and its competitors, the USA and Brazil, are offering their meat at very low prices.
EU pork exporters, on the other hand, suffered a drop in deliveries to other important customers. For the UK, the second most important export destination after brexite, exports fell by 37.4% to 170,700 t. In addition, sales to Japan fell by 14.8% to 101,800 t and to South Korea by 39.4% to 50,080 t. In recent weeks, however, sales there appear to have improved again, as the United States had less export supply available due to corona-related slaughterhouse closures.
Within the EU, Spain expanded its leading export position for pork and increased its sales to third countries by 29% to 369,840 t compared to the first quarter of 2019. In contrast, the increase in exports reported for German suppliers was modest at 3.1% to 310,080 t. The reason for this was the lower export of slaughter by-products; in contrast, exports of chilled and frozen goods rose by 16.9% to 189,200 t. Denmark increased its sales to third countries by a total of 14.9% to 244,100 t, putting it in third place.
In the Netherlands, international sales in the product group of salted, dried and smoked pork increased, which caused total exports to fall by 0.9% to just under 187,000 t. According to the Commission, Poland recorded a 37.1% drop in its exports to third countries to 67,380 t, which is likely to be related to export restrictions due to African swine fever (ASF).