May 24, 2021

South Korea's pig meat imports drop 5% during January-April 2021


South Korea imported 5% less pig meat, including offal, during the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period a year ago, the United Kingdom's Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reported.


A total of 148,800 tonnes of pig meat was imported into the country during the period — 7,500 tonnes less year-on-year.


The main driver of the fall was a 91% fall in shipments from Germany, due to the African swine fever-related ban currently in place. Volumes from the United States also fell by 18%. This was enough to outweigh higher shipments from elsewhere in Europe, including Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria. More pig meat was also received from the UK, despite being a relatively small supplier.


Despite imports being lower so far this year as a whole, volumes increased month-on-month, with March and April also being higher than a year ago.


The United States Department of Agriculture's latest forecast suggests a 3% fall in domestic pork production in South Korea in 2021. Reports suggest that many farmers reduced their sow numbers in the second half of 2020, due to lower wholesale pork prices, which will lead to lower pig slaughter.


Production may be further hampered by ASF, if cases return on a wider scale. ASF is present in wild boar in South Korea, but industry reports note that ASF was confirmed in several pigs on a farm in Gangwon Province earlier in May. This marks the first reported cases in domesticated pigs in seven months.


Despite lower imports so far in 2021, the USDA expects South Korea to import 16% more pig meat in 2021 year-on-year. This is partly due to lower production, but also likely due to an anticipated rise in consumption out-of-home in 2021 as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.