The strong performance of EU exporters in the final months of 2015 continued into January, with pork shipments up by more than a quarter compared with a year before, at 156,000 tonnes.
This represented comfortably the best start to the year on record, despite the ongoing Russian ban.
China remains the key driver of the growth, with shipments more than double their level in January 2015. Most other Asian markets took more EU pork this January, with South Korea the only significant exception.
This indicates that demand remains strong, despite the slowdown in economic growth, and EU product remains competitive. This has come at the expense of a 7 per cent fall in unit prices but the value of exports was still up 17 per cent year on year, at €335 million.
The positive trend was also apparent for other products. Offal exports were 30 per cent higher than a year earlier, at 105,900 tonnes, with stronger sales to most Asian markets (other than South Korea).
Pig fat sales remain well below their level before the Russian ban but even they were up 23 per cent year on year. China, Georgia and the Philippines were the key buyers, although lower prices wiped out virtually all of the growth in value terms.
Maintaining the good export performance will be vital in supporting EU pig prices, given that internal consumer demand remains subdued. Increased competition from North and South America, for example through Brazil’s regained access to China, can be expected. However, the strong start can only be a positive sign for the year ahead.