Background Banner

Update on Russian, European Pork Markets

Published: Jun 20, 2014
Russia’s swine herd has declined 1 percent year-over-year to 19.73 million head, which is a reflection of the high slaughter numbers resulting from the current pork deficit. As a result of the increase in slaughter, Russia’s domestic pork production is nearly 10 percent ahead of last year’s pace. Russia’s January-April pork imports are down significantly, with total imports down 40 percent from a year ago to 123,748 metric tons (mt). Results by product category include:

• Frozen imports down 32 percent to 114,700 mt
• Chilled imports down 85 percent to 1,200 mt
• Pork fat imports down 71 percent to 24,900 mt

Since imports of pork from the European Union were suspended at the end of January due to African swine fever in EU member states Lithuania and Poland, Brazil and Canada have emerged as Russia’s primary pork suppliers. In April, for example, Brazil captured 48 percent of the imported pork market while Canada held 40 percent. But Russian producers have been the main beneficiaries of this suspension, with domestic hog and pork prices rising to record highs. The surge in prices has not translated into significant new investments in primary pork production, as concerns about animal health issues and the sustainability of strong prices still present significant risks. However, Russia’s pork processing sector is attracting a higher level of new investment.

With the EU-Russia pork impasse now nearly six months in length, the EU’s exports are expanding in several other markets. EU pork/pork variety meat exports totaled 211,092 mt in April – down 6 percent from last April’s large volumes but relatively close to the levels achieved in 2011 and 2012. Exports were significantly higher to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, U.S., Australia and Taiwan, as the EU capitalized on high pork prices in these countries. However, this growth did not entirely offset the loss of the Russian market, which is historically the EU’s largest export destination.

Despite the loss of such a key market, January-April exports of 827,497 mt were down only 3 percent from a year ago. Exports to China (234,044 mt) were steady, while significant gains were made in other Asian markets including Japan (109,179 mt, +33 percent), Hong Kong (127,788, +12 percent), Korea (68,754 mt, +86 percent), the Philippines (45,548 mt, +65 percent) and Taiwan (12,936 mt, +319 percent). Exports were also higher to the United States (29,556 mt, +40 percent) and Australia (19,823 mt, 9 percent).

(Sources: USMEF-Russia and Global Trade Atlas)