Irish pork exports grow by 20% in the first half of the year

Irish pork exports continued to grow into the first half of 2016, up 20% on the year earlier, reaching a total of 96,100t, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork.

Figures show that the UK is Ireland’s biggest partner when it comes to pork imports and exports. Just under 30% of Ireland’s total pig production was destined for the UK market, the AHDB says.

Ireland also exports significant amounts of processed products to the UK, with 8,600t of bacon and 4,900t of sausages being shipped to the UK during the first six months of 2016.

The most significant increases in Irish pork exports were destined for China, where exports more than doubled compared to 2015 figures, and Denmark, which showed an increase of 84%, figures show.

Pork shipments to the UK grew by 6% in the first six months of 2016 in comparison to a year earlier, while trade with Germany, which is largely made up of sow carcases as in the UK, was back 18% overall.

The increased export level has been assisted by a 5% rise in Irish pork production in the first half of 2016, compared to the same period a year earlier, the AHDB says.

Irish Pork trade January-June Source: Central Statistics Office
Irish Pork trade January-June Source: Central Statistics Office

However, the census figures released in December 2015 showed that the breeding herd was back by 5%, Vicki Sweeney, AHDB Pork Senior Analyst said.

Therefore, there may be an assumption that production increases have been affected by an increase in productivity and average carcase weights, Sweeney said.

With the exchange rate becoming less favourable since the Brexit vote, and the gap narrowing between the Irish and the UK pig price, it may reduce the volume of Irish pig meat on the UK market.

Although this is only likely to have a modest effect, it may further support the increasing UK domestic price of pork, according to Sweeney.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the total number of pigs in Ireland in June 2016 was estimated at 1,594,300.

This represents an increase of 3.7% since June 2015, with non-breeding pig numbers up by 4.1% and breeding pigs showing an increase of 0.4%.