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.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Senior Analyst (Red Meat)

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Beef and Lamb market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at info@ahdb.org.uk  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.