Rise in German pigmeat exports hit by swine fever

THE RECENT outbreak of classical swine fever looks set to halt the trend of increasing Ger-man pig meat imports - at least in the short-term.

THE RECENT outbreak of classical swine fever looks set to halt the trend of increasing German pig meat imports - at least in the short-term.

The latest British Pig Executive (BPEX) imports report reveals an 82% rise in German bacon imports (up from 9,500 tonnes in 2004 to 17,3000 last year). It said this was partly due to the largest Dutch manufacturer Dumeco, which operates in the UK, being taken over by Vion, which operates in The Netherlands and Germany; some fresh product used to go from Germany to The Netherlands but last year a lot more was cured into bacon in Germany instead.

Following the outbreak, the European Commission imposed a ban on German pigs from North-Rhine Westphalia two weeks ago, which is due to be lifted around mid-May.

Said BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan: "It depends on how long the ban goes on for. In the short-term it will have a sizeable impact on German imports but the issue is whether buyers will go back to Germany afterwards or whether they'll start sourcing in this country."

The BPEX report adds that British products are being put under pressure by overall imports which have risen by 35 per cent since 2001. It found that more than 70 per cent of the pork and pork products that came into the country were produced under conditions which would be illegal in the UK - a rise from 66% in 2004.

"Imported pork is being sold increasingly through retail outlets and mostly at discounted prices," said Sloyan. "Imported bacon is being used for deep cut price promotions selling, on average, at 6-30% below the equivalent UK product. However, consumer research indicates British consumers remain very concerned about imports of pork and pork products that fail to meet UK pig welfare legislation."

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