BELGIUM, Brussels. Pork exporters in the European Union sold more goods to third countries in the first half of 2021 than in the same period last year, even setting a new volume record.
According to preliminary data from the EU Commission, 2.96 million tonnes were exported, including offal; this was 423,000 tonnes or 16.7% more than in the first half of 2020. However, there have recently been clear signs of a slowdown in EU exports, as in the first quarter of 2021 exports were still up by a good 30%.
The flattening growth rate is due to the faltering pork deliveries to China. Although, at 1.69 million tonnes, these were still 98 850 tonnes or 6.2% above the level of the first half of 2020, they have already been more than significantly below this level for several months. From the beginning of July, Chinese buying restraint led to noticeably falling prices for slaughter pigs and pork in the EU. In view of the growing pig stocks in the People's Republic, analysts say record exports to China are no longer to be expected in the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, EU sales of pork to other Asian countries have never been better. The Philippines have a high import demand after the animal losses due to African swine fever (ASF). EU exports there more than tripled to 185 200 t in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year, making the island nation the second largest customer.
The same is true for Vietnam, where shipments doubled to 89 200 tonnes. Korea and Hong Kong also bought slightly more pork from the Community, while Japan, an important customer, purchased almost 170 000 t, almost 13 % less from the EU. However, the shortfall in trade with Japan over the previous year's volumes has recently been reduced.
An increase in EU pork exports compared to the first half of 2020 was also seen among many small and medium-sized customers. For example, exports to the USA increased by a third to 63 800 t, and to Australia by 44% to 52 100 t. Sales to the Ivory Coast even soared by 82 % to 44 850 t, those to New Zealand by 71 % to 24 300 t.