Fewer adult cattle slaughterings reduce Dutch beef output

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

By Hannah Clarke

In the 11 months to November 2019, Dutch beef production totalled 387,100 tonnes, down 9% on the year. While there was some production growth in February and April, this was offset by continuous year-on-year declines from May onwards. The majority of this decline came from lower production of beef from adult cattle (-38,400 tonnes), particularly cows. Veal production from calves aged 0-12 months rose slightly from 2018 to 241,200 tonnes (+0.5%), accounting for over 60% of the total production figure.

Provisional Dutch cattle numbers for 2019 stand at 3.8 million head, down 3% (+116,000 head) from 2018. The majority of this decline has come from a fall in the number of dairy replacements on farms (-108,900 head), as the country continues to shrink its dairy herd to meet phosphate regulations. Meanwhile, the number of calves destined for veal production rose (+43,700 head). The Dutch dairy herd (cows >2yrs) stood at 1.58 million head, down 45,100 head from 2018. Any further reduction in cattle numbers could further limit beef and dairy production in the country.

Dutch exports of fresh/frozen beef for the 10 months to October 2019 totalled 401,000 tonnes, up 1.3% on the same period last year. Shipments to Germany - their largest customer - remained stable (+400 tonnes), while more was sent to Belgium (+1,400 tonnes) and African countries. This helped to offset lower volumes sent to France (-3,700 tonnes), Denmark (-3,200 tonnes), and Italy (-600 tonnes).

Imports also rose year-on-year. In the 10 months to October 2019, the Netherlands imported 355,100 tonnes of fresh/frozen beef, up 4% on the same period in 2018. Substantial growth in imports from Poland (+11,400 tonnes) and the UK (+10,600 tonnes) helped to offset losses from Belgium (-11,800 tonnes), and a modest increase from Germany (+1,700 tonnes).

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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