EU agri-markets: Beef and pigmeat consumption to fall this year

Consumption of beef and pigmeat will decrease in the EU this year, while consumption of poultry meat will increase, according to the latest short-term outlook of agricultural markets from the European Commission.

According to the autumn outlook, published today (Monday, October 9), overall per capita consumption of meat will decrease by 1.5% in 2023, due to price inflation and lower supply. The decrease will be stronger for beef consumption (down 3.5%) and pigmeat (down 5.2%), while consumption of poultry meat will grow by 4.3%.

Across the EU generally, prices for beef and poultry remain high, due to lower supply. Poultry remains one of the cheapest sources of protein for consumers, supported by recovered production.

Turning to dairy, EU milk deliveries remain fairly stable and are estimated to increase slightly by 0.3% in 2023.

The prices of EU raw milk have been declining since the beginning of the year. Even though prices for energy, fertilisers, and feed costs are slowly starting to decrease across the EU, they remain high, and are resulting in continuing tight margins for dairy farmersacross the member states.

The production of cheese is forecast to be 1% higher in 2023 than last year. Easing EU food inflation is likely to have a positive impact on domestic use of cheese, which is expected to increase slightly this year by 0.2%.

EU exports of dairy are unlikely to expand this year due to decreasing demand from China. Therefore, extra volumes of dairy are likely to be consumed domestically, showing a higher resistance to increasing prices than other products of animal origin.

On the tillage side, EU cereal production for 2023 and 2024 is expected to be 4.3% below the average for the previous five years, at 268.5 million tonnes. This is due to adverse weather conditions over spring and summer that especially impacted maize and barely production.

Feed use of cereals may remain stable this year, while the use of cereals for biofuel production may continue growing, and could reach 12% usage above 2022 to 2023 levels.

EU oilseed production is performing particularly strongly, running at 11% above the five-year average, driven by a recovery in sunflower production, as well higher soya bean production.

While the ban on the use of neonicotinoids as insecticides causes some challenges for sugar beet growers, increases are expected this year in planting areas, beet yields, and sugar content, compared to the decline that occurred in 2022. 

The 2023/2024 EU sugar production is forecast to be 15.6 million tonnes, close to the five-year average.

However, there have been some positive signs as well, including some declines in input costs.

EU exports of agri-food produce have also regained some competitiveness.

The outlook said that, while food prices still remain a big concern for consumers, monthly food inflation has declined since July. Still, food inflation accounts for almost 40% of price increases at consumer level.

Improved grassland conditions and lower feed costs provided some relief to livestock producers, despite the expected lower-than-average meat production.