United Kingdom: A Potential Opportunity for U.S. Pork
Currently, the United Kingdom (U.K.) is a small market for U.S. pork and pork products.
U.K. Net Importer of Pork
A net importer of pork (mostly from the EU), the U.K. imports loins, hams, bellies, bacon and other processed products. They export surplus shoulders, trimmings and offal. Pork exports have been rising steadily over the last decade, and recently included growth to China.
In 2020, the U.K. exported 31.4% of total pork production. About 60% of U.K. pork consumption comes from EU imports.
- On June 23, 2016, Britain voted to leave the EU.
- After two rejected deals, the U.K. formally left the EU in January 2020, and immediately entered into a transition period.
- During this stage, the U.K. and EU negotiated a trade agreement, allowing duty-free trade to continue.
- From January 1, 2022, customs controls were implemented, as were initial veterinary controls, with vet checks and certification implemented July 1 (for U.K. imports from the EU). The trade has been significantly disrupted with complex rules of origin, plus the hurdles associated with Northern Ireland.
- After the transition period, U.K. negotiations with other countries proceeded and the U.K. now has trade agreements with countries such as New Zealand and Australia. Progress with U.S.-U.K. negotiations have stalled.
U.S. Pork Exports to the U.K.
The top U.S. agricultural exports to the U.K. are wood pellets, wine, prepared food, whiskey and wine barrels.
The U.K. was the U.S.’ top pork export market within the EU-28. In 2021, U.S. pork exports to the U.K. totaled 2.22 million pounds, valued at $3.9 million.
U.K. pork imports from the U.S. pay an in-quota duty and mainly include chilled loins that are primarily bound for retail.
The goal for the U.S. industry is to reach a free trade agreement with the U.K., which would eliminate duties and quotas on U.S. pork and beef. For now, U.S. products face most favored nation tariffs.
If a free trade agreement is established between the U.S. and the U.K., U.S. companies and producers who are willing to invest in making their products eligible for export may have a great opportunity in the U.K. market.
If producers can prove they can meet the U.K.’s strict standards and regulations, the U.S. has the opportunity to be successful in growing our share in the U.K. pork market.
U.K. Protein Consumption
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2021, the average per capita pork consumption in the U.K. was 35.1 pounds. This is below the OECD average of 52 pounds.
Pork consumption has remained steady over the past decade, however, fish and poultry consumption rank higher in the U.K.
The concern for “ethically produced” and climate-friendly meat is very common across the U.K. Consumers desire transparency of where their food comes from, its environmental impact and if it was ethically sourced. Leaner proteins like eggs, fish and plant-based alternatives are also growing in popularity.
Though meat consumption is projected to grow by 1% annually, poultry and beef are favored over pork as consumers become more health-conscious. Therefore, it will be essential to communicate the nutritional benefits of pork to U.K. consumers.
The U.K. is the top global importer of sausages, importing 300 million pounds in 2020, valued at $679 million. Nearly all sausage imports are from EU member countries at zero duty.
Pork Merchandising Opportunities
The most significant cut categories in the U.K. pork import market are chilled boneless cuts (loins and hams) and chilled bone-in hams. While U.S. pork exports to the U.K. are mostly made up of those two boneless cut categories, the U.S. typically has a surplus of these cuts and could, therefore, benefit from additional opportunities in the U.K. market.
The share in the U.K. pork market could grow if a free trade agreement is established between the U.S. and the U.K. and if U.S. companies and producers are willing to invest in making their products eligible to pass the U.K.’s strict standards and regulations.