BELGIUM, Brussels. European Union pork exports hit record highs last year and the export boom is set to continue in early 2021.
According to preliminary data from the EU Commission, a total of 1.02 mill. t of pork, including offal, was sold by the 27 member states to third countries in January and February, some 210,000 t or a good quarter more than in the same period last year. The increase in EU export volumes was due in particular to booming shipments of pork to China. Compared to the first two months of 2020, these increased by 134,000 t or 27.4 % to 622,000 t. This means that the China business accounted for a good 60% of all EU exports.
The relatively strongest export increase in EU pork sales to third countries was in shipments to the Philippines, up 133% to 56,000 t. There, the government had recently announced a massive expansion of imports and tariff reductions on imports due to the increased prices in the country as a result of African swine fever (ASF). Vietnam has also been affected by this animal disease and ordered 20,000 t, a quarter more than in the Community. In addition, exports to the former British crown colony of Hong Kong rose by a good 90% year-on-year to 48,000 t.
In contrast, according to Commission data, business with Japan was weaker; pork exports there fell by 25% to 51,000 t compared to January and February 2020. This country thus lost second place among the most important EU customers to the Philippines and now ranked third. Less pork was also sold to South Korea, down 14% to 32,000 t. Exports to Australia were also down so far this year, falling by 12% to 15,000 t.
Like the EU, Brazil also increased its international pork sales. According to official data, exports of fresh and frozen pork increased by 24% to 224,100 t in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. The 35% increase in exports to China, to around 128,600 t, was a major contributor. In addition, more goods were sold to Singapore, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. By contrast, exports of fresh and frozen pork to Russia came to a complete standstill.