Uncertainty shrouds EU beef outlook

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The European Commission believes EU27 beef production could decline by 1.4% in 2020, according to its latest short-term outlook*, although uncertainty remains.

During the first half of 2020, COVID-19 measures and reduced demand from foodservice caused cattle slaughter in most member states to plateau or fall. In addition, tricky weather conditions during spring put pressure on grass growth and forage availability, leading to earlier finishing and lower carcase weights.

The drop in demand has also knocked imports, which the Commission expect to be down 10% year-on-year in 2020 overall. Tighter supplies anticipated in key exporting nations are also a contributor. EU27 exports are expected to be up 1% for the year, with lower shipments to the UK offset by growth to other markets, including China and Canada.

As for 2021, the Commission expects lower livestock numbers in some member states could contribute to a further decline in EU27 beef production, which may in turn limit exports. Consumption is expected to improve somewhat, which may also boost import demand.

Of course, uncertainty remains over the evolution and management of COVID-19 cases, recovery of key trading partner economies, and the outcome of EU-UK Brexit talks.


*As of 2020, the outlooks exclude the UK but assume frictionless trade with the EU for 2020 and 2021.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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