Meat imports decline significantly
As reported by the meat industry associations (VDF and BVDF), in the previous year less beef was imported while the volume of pork imports remained almost steady. Fresh and frozen beef accounted for a good 14 percent of the total import volume. Approximately 86 percent of the beef originated from other EU countries. In total, about 342,000 t beef were imported, which is seven percent less than in 2017. The decline is due simply to the sharp drop in internal trade (–29,500 t or nine percent). The most important supplier countries are the Netherlands, France and Poland. What must be noted here is that a considerable proportion of the beef exported from the Netherlands is likely to have originated from extra-EU imports, primarily from South America and the US, that were imported through the Rotterdam port into the EU. This “Rotterdam effect” is not taken into account in the external trade statistics.
Imports from extra-EU countries on the other hand increased by 6.2 percent to 48,700 t. Chilled beef accounts for about 85 percent of the beef imports, three percentage points more than the previous year. More than half (54 percent) of the beef imports from extra-EU countries were supplied from Argentina (26,000 t). Brazil (8,200 t, 17 percent) and Uruguay (7,000 t, 14 percent) hold second and third places respectively among the supplier countries. While the import volume from Argentina rose by a good 16 percent, imports from Uruguay and Paraguay recorded falls of 16 and 9 percent respectively. Purchases from Brazil remained almost unchanged compared to the previous year. With a total of 3,300 t, imports from the US recorded a good nine percent rise on the previous year.
The pork sector accounts for more than half of all meat imports (916,000 t). The volume is almost the same as 2017. Almost all consignments (99.8 percent) of fresh and frozen pork come from other EU Member States. Denmark is still the most important supplier country as last year with 322,000 t (+7.6 percent) in front of Belgium with 265,000 t (–8.6 percent) and the Netherlands with 123,000 t (–2.0 percent). The negligible imports by volume of fresh and frozen pork from extra-EU countries (2,000 t) came predominantly from Chile (1,300 t). Imports from Switzerland and the US were a considerable distance behind at 400 t and 220 t respectively.