Hungary gains clearance to export pork to Japan

Through an ASF regionalization agreement, Hungarian pig meat has been cleared for export to Japan.

Ramen soup with pork meat.

Hungary is the first of the EU countries hit by African Swine Fever to gain exemption from the restrictions put into place by Japan, announced Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szíjjártó last weekend on social media. The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also reports that Hungary will be the first EU country to gain access to the Japanese market for its pork meat export since the start of the current swine disease outbreak.

This is a welcome change for the industry. Generally speaking, the Hungarian pig sector saw a 14% increase in growth last year. From March until the end of the year, the price of pork increased, however, the price of live pigs started to decline, which frustrated both consumers and the farmers. (See more here.)

However, in January 2021, the price of pork dropped from €4.29/kg to around €2.8/kg. The news portal Agrárszektor reports that the main reason for this, according to sectoral stakeholders, is the effect of the pandemic lockdowns in the fall, the German ASF outbreak, the loss of demand from the HORECA sectors, and consequently, the amount of pork products stuck in the common market. Stakeholders are now hoping for a stabilization in the markets after the crisis. They also calculate a 20% increase in the price of meat following the expected downsizing of livestock in Germany.

While in 2020, the pig sector was affected by European market trends – As well as the ripples of the shockwave of the economic crisis started by the COVID-19 pandemic – the industry in Hungary also started transforming, with investments into the processing infrastructure boosting the country’s processed pork product output capacity. As a result, in 2020, while the import of pork decreased by 17%, the import of live pigs increased by 18%.