UK needs more pork imports

The UK continues to import pork from the EU, US and other regions, and the US pork industry is looking to increase its share of this market. Courtney Knupp, Vice President of International Market Development for the National Pork Board, recently traveled to the UK with a pig farmer from Michigan to participate in a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) trade mission involving several different commodities. They gathered feedback to improve their US pork sustainability message, a key request from consumers in the UK and other markets.

We also visited retailers including Costco. The pork loin at all 30 Costco UK stores is imported from the United States, according to the board. UK is a significant importer In terms of the overall market, “the UK is a significant importer of pork, almost entirely from the EU,” notes Joe Schuele, director of communications at the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). “Demand is greatest for boneless loins and hams, of which the US is a very price-competitive producer.”

“It is crucial for our own pig industry that any imports are produced to the same high standards required by domestic legislation and that consumers expect from British pork” said Charlie Dewhirst, senior policy adviser at the National Pig Association High standards Charlie Dewhirst.

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UK is not self sufficient in pork production but standards are high

He explains that “as the UK is not self-sufficient in pork production, we need to import significant volumes to meet demand. However, it is crucial for our own pig industry that any imports are produced to the same high standards required by domestic legislation and that consumers expect from British pork.”

Very little pork is exported from Canada to the UK. “Last year we shipped 36,700 kg worth $ 606,395 CAD,” reports Gary Stordy of the Canadian Pork Council.

A look at UK imports – and exports During May 2022, the UK`s total pork imports totaled $ 1.044 billion USD, up 26% from a year ago, says Schuele. “Volumes were close to 300,000 tonnes, up 30% as Brexit and Covid barriers eased and imports from the EU regained momentum,” he reported.

UK pork exports

UK pork exports to the EU also increased by 11% to he 163,000 tonnes. “Thus, the EU is a significant net importer [to the UK], but the carcass balance depends on exports,” he says Mr Schuele. “This includes exports of picnics and ingredients to the EU and exports of various types of meat to China. Other major export destinations for British pork are the Philippines, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Canada.”

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Unfair tariffs on US?

“If the United States and the United Kingdom struck an agreement to eliminate tariffs and reduce sanitary barriers, US pork would have an opportunity to go to British processors, foodservice operators and ultimately retailers” Joe Schule, Communications Director, American Meat Exporters Federation. US pork exports to the UK are hampered by quota tariffs that vary by product, Mr Schuele explained.

“For example, the largest quota volume available is for boneless loins and hams, at a duty rate of 2.09 £/kg,” he says. “This is a huge disadvantage compared to imports from the EU, which enter at zero duty and are not subject to any quotas.

In addition, “US pork exports to the UK must still be from EU-approved plants and must meet all the requirements outlined in the `Pork for the EU Program` administered by USDA.” “A solution to this situation, is a trade agreement,” says Schuele. “If the US and UK had a deal that eliminates tariffs and reduces sanitary barriers”, he says “US pork would have an opportunity to build inroads with UK further processors, foodservice operators, and eventually, retailers.”

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UK pork crisis

On August 3, the NPA stated that “worrying new data” from an independent analysis “suggests the UK pig supply chain is facing a significant shortage of pork, as herd and sow numbers plummet following 18 months of crisis for the pig sector.

Back in May, NPA sent a letter to UK supermarket chain Tesco, asking for support “as 4 out of 5 British pig farmers are set to go bust.” The release at that time stated that “UK pork producers are currently facing unprecedented losses as costs of production soar due to record pig feed price.

It currently costs an estimated 203-216 pence per kg to produce a pig, a figure forecast to rise even higher as wheat prices continue to rise due to disruption caused by the war in Ukraine.”

Related Article: Europe’s drought pushes meat & milk prices higher

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Source: Pig Progress

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