EU exports of all pig meat products were up by more than a quarter in the first three months of 2016, compared with a year earlier, according to latest figures from the EU Commission.
All the main categories of export were higher, on the back of strong demand from Asian markets, in particular.
Fresh/frozen pork exports to China more than doubled, while sales to Hong Kong and the Philippines were both up by a third. Japan and the United States both took around 20 per cent more EU pork than in the same period last year.
South Korea was the only major market to take significantly less product this year.
Offal sales to the Asian markets were similarly strong. In addition, China bought substantially more pig fat this year which, along with growth to the Philippines, provided some relief to a part of the market which has been struggling since the Russian ban.
All of the EU’s significant exporters experienced year-on-year growth in third country exports during the first quarter of 2016.
Spain led the way with shipments up by nearly half, while Germany saw a 31 per cent rise and Denmark’s sales were up 7 per cent. It was a similar story among the EU’s mid-ranking exporters, including the UK, which saw third country volumes rise by more than half, the fastest growth of any Member State.
The strength of export sales in early 2016 helped to provide some support to the EU pig market at a time when consumer demand for pork was subdued.
More recent reports suggest that export sales have remained strong, meaning that an upturn in domestic demand has tightened the EU market and pushed pig prices higher.
With supplies forecast to reduce later in the year, signs that export demand will remain robust could provide some cautious optimism among EU producers.