A Report on the Growth in Pig Meat Imports into the UK

By the British Pig Executive - Imports of pork, bacon and ham into the UK, which has been rising in recent years, increased sharply in 2003. In 2004, imports increased by a further 2%. This report analyses the volume and type of cuts imported in 2004 and the countrys from which they came.
calendar icon 11 July 2005
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British Pig Executive

Executive Summary

Imports of pork and processed pork products (such as bacon) increased by 2% in 2004 following a 14% year-on-year rise in 2003 to reach 793,000 tonnes product weight. Live pig imports increased by a further 21% to 402,000 head. In 2004, an estimated 60% (876,000 tonnes carcase weight equivalent) of all the pig meat consumed in the UK was imported. It is estimated that at least two thirds of these imports came from pigs that would not conform to UK minimum legal standards. Click here for the full report

MLC estimates indicate that most imported pork* was processed in the UK into bacon and ham. However, 59,000 tonnes of imported pork is estimated to have been sold directly through UK retail outlets. This represents a year-on-year increase of almost 50%.

A detailed analysis of import data and production data from supplying countries indicated that selected cuts from about 15% of the pigs slaughtered in supplying countries are exported to the UK. However, there are wide differences. The two major suppliers, the Netherlands and Denmark, use selected cuts from 94% and 40% of the pigs they slaughter each year to supply the UK market. It is estimated by BPEX that in all cases less than 20% of production meets UK legal minimum standards with respect to pig welfare**.

Importers have claimed that they merely react to market demand. Therefore, the market research company TNS was commissioned to conduct a survey of 1,502 British consumers. The results of the survey were:

  • 92% of consumers agreed that imported meat should be produced to standards that are equivalent to those in the UK.

  • 90% of consumers were concerned that the vast majority of imported pork, bacon and ham would be illegal to produce in the UK.

  • 78% of consumers thought that independent quality assurance schemes were important.

* Pork refers to fresh and frozen unprocessed pig meat.
** The use of sow stalls and tethers has been banned in the UK since 1999.


The report also assesses the extent to which imports might conform to UK legal minimum standards with regard to the keeping of sows. It also presents the results of consumer research conducted in March 2004 into consumer attitudes about production standards.

This report follows a report into long-term import trends published in July 2003 (BPEX 2003) and updates "A Report on the Growth in Pig Meat Imports into the United Kingdom", published in 2004 (BPEX 2004).

Further Information

To continue reading this report please Click Here (PDF)

Source: BPEX - July 2005

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