Largely driven by demand in China, Mexico and South Korea, global pork trade volume increased by about 5 percent in 2015, setting a new record of more than 7 million metric tons (mt). The European Union led the way on the supplier side, particularly benefiting from China’s increased demand. This helped drive EU export volume to a record 3 million mt, up 9 percent year-over-year. Exports to China/Hong Kong were 1.446 million mt, +22 percent and accounting for 48 percent of total EU export volume. EU exports were lower for Japan, the Philippines, Ukraine, Thailand and Montenegro, but larger for the other main destinations including the United States, Australia, Ivory Coast, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, South Africa and New Zealand. For pork muscle cuts only, EU exports were up 10 percent, also setting a new record at 1.837 million mt, driven largely by a 45 percent increase to China/Hong Kong (631,635 mt).
The weak euro, an increase in EU pork production and tepid intra-EU demand all contributed to low prices and Europe’s record-breaking exports. With the Russian market closed, European pork has become more reliant on the Asian markets, and pork from numerous EU member states is now competing with U.S. pork. This includes cuts not typically exported by the EU, such as Spanish picnics in Korea and defrosted Spanish pork at retail in Japan.
Among other major suppliers, exports from the United States declined 2 percent to 2.13 million mt. We detailed 2015 U.S. export results in the Feb. 12 Export Newsline.
Exports of Canadian pork totaled 1.068 million mt, which was steady with 2014. Canada’s exports to China were down slightly after gaining momentum in June, but trended higher for all other major markets, including the U.S., Japan and Mexico. The weak Canadian dollar helped Canada offset the loss of the Russian market, as the industry effectively found alternative markets for the 89,000 mt of pork it shipped to Russia in 2014 before the market closed in August that year. Canada also benefited from the West Coast port issues, which helped to open opportunities for Canadian chilled pork in Japan.
Exports from Brazil (535,700 mt) and Chile (176,000 mt) each increased by about 10 percent in 2015 and Mexico’s exports were up an estimated 6 percent to 98,000 mt. So with the U.S. being the only major exporter to see a decline in export volume, the U.S. share of global exports dropped from 30 percent in 2014 to 29 percent last year (U.S. share peaked at 32 percent in 2011). Brazil’s export growth was driven by increases to leading markets Russia and Hong Kong. Chile also exported larger volumes to its top three markets: China, Korea and Russia. Although Russia imported less pork in 2015, Brazil, Ukraine and Chile were its dominant suppliers.
On the importing side, the top six markets – China/Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the U.S., Korea and Russia – accounted for nearly 80 percent of global volume. Imports trended higher for China/Hong (+8 percent), Mexico (+15 percent), the U.S. (+10 percent), and Korea (+24 percent), but lower for Japan (-5 percent) and (Russia -21 percent). Among the other significant importing countries, combined volume increased by only 1 percent.
Sources: Global Trade Atlas and USMEF estimates