China doubled the its pork imports for the month of March to 114,700t compared to the corresponding month in 2015, AHDB Pork has reported.

The growth in pork imports to China was exceptional in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down during the first quarter of 2016, according to AHDB.

The body for the English pork industry attributes the high pork price in China, currently around 280p/kg (360c/kg), to attracting more imports, as the domestic industry is unable to fully capitalise on this positive price movement.

Expansion is hampered for smaller producers due to a restriction to capital it says, while increasing environmental legislation is also hampering expansion among larger producers. This is as they are moved away from coastal areas, where land prices are at a premium, and population centres, AHDB says.

EU pork imports to China are continuing to increase and they are up 93% in the first quarter of 2016 versus the same period a year earlier, according to AHDB.

Quoting the statistics AHDB says that imports from non-EU countries have also increased sharply in the first quarter of 2016, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Nearly 40% of Irish pork exports go to markets outside of the EU

Meanwhile, some 37% of Irish pork goes to third country markets (outside of the EU), according to Stephen Howarth, Market Specialist Manager with AHDB.

Going by this figure, Howarth says that Ireland has the highest share of pork exports leaving the EU (37%) for third country markets.

It was followed by the UK, with 31% of its pork exports going out of the EU.

Just under a quarter of pork exported from the 28 EU Member States was destined for a non-EU market last year.

Looking to the big EU exporters, nearly 30% of Spanish and Danish pork exports went to third countries last year. Germany accounted for 20% of third country exports.

Figures also show that Denmark has been overtaken as the lead EU pork exporter to markets outside of the EU.