South Korea bucks pork import expectations

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea pork imports performed well despite AHDB's expectations
South Korea pork imports performed well despite AHDB's expectations
Imports of fresh and frozen pork into South Korea have defied analyst expectations to increase 15% year-on-year.

According to Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork, there was an expectation that South Korean imports would slow over the year, however they increased to 430,700 tonnes for the 12 months to September.

The AHDB Pork analysis showed that while increased imports were recorded for all key suppliers, the US remained the dominant single supplier of pork to South Korea. It reported that US pork imports reached 149,400 tonnes valued at $408m, accounting for 35% of all imports by volume and 31% by value.

Imports from the EU saw a smaller increase, up 7% on the year. Despite this relatively small increase, EU pork still accounts for half of South Korea’s total pork import volumes, at 214,400 tonnes.

This growth is not expected to continue due to growing domestic production.

According to recent USDA research, Korea’s swine herd is expected to continue to expand next year to support higher pork consumption.  This demand is being driven by processed meat producers’ increasing use of domestic pork and growing consumer demand due to concerns over the safety of imported pork. Furthermore, low feed prices are expected to continue to support profitability in the domestic sector.

Consequently, going forward, sector profitability is likely to drive increased production, reducing import demand, with the EU potentially being the region to lose out.

AHDB believes that with US production benefiting from slightly more favourable access conditions to Korea compared to the EU, due to the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, it is likely that the US will maintain its market share, possibly limiting growth opportunities for EU exporters.

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