Meat & Livestock News

EU Short-Term Outlook: Beef and Sheepmeat Summary

TL;DR: EU beef and sheepmeat production declined in 2023, with further decreases expected in 2024. High prices persist, influenced by reduced imports and exports. Sheepmeat consumption also dropped due to low availability and continued high prices.

Beef and Veal Trends

In 2023, EU beef production saw a 3.9% decrease, influenced by structural changes in the beef and dairy sectors. Predictions for 2024 suggest a further decline of 2.3%. This trend has maintained high market prices, expected to persist as per the European Commission. Italy experienced the most significant reduction, with a 17% drop due to a shortage of imported live animals. The latest data shows a 1.6% decrease in suckler cows and a 1.7% fall in dairy cows across the EU.

Import and Export Dynamics

Despite stable prices within the EU, the drop in production was not compensated by imports, which decreased by 1.1% in 2023. The UK exerted considerable downward pressure on EU imports following a more robust trading year in 2022. However, imports from Brazil and Argentina increased and are projected to grow by 2% in 2024, barring redirection to other major markets like the US and China. An upcoming El Niño event in Australia might impact these forecasts.

Export and Consumption Outlook

EU beef exports remain strong despite high domestic prices, thanks to the reopening of several markets. A slight decline of 1% in exports is expected in 2024 due to dwindling cattle numbers. Additionally, EU beef consumption per capita decreased by 4.7% in 2023, with a further reduction of 2.8% anticipated for 2024.

Sheepmeat and Goat Meat Analysis

Sheep and goat meat production in the EU decreased by 5% in 2023, with Spain, Greece, and France seeing the largest drops. This trend is likely to continue, with a forecasted 4.9% decline in 2024. Sheep and goat populations in the EU decreased by 2.6%, equating to a loss of 1.9 million heads.

Growing Imports and Declining Exports

EU imports of sheepmeat grew by 2.2%, mainly from the UK and New Zealand, with expectations of a further increase of 2.5% in 2024 due to ongoing supply tightness. While exports to the UK remained stable, overall sheepmeat exports fell by 13% due to reduced production, especially affecting shipments to the Middle East. This trend is expected to continue with a further 2% reduction in exports in 2024, amidst uncertainties in the Red Sea, Black Sea, and Middle East regions.

Consumption Trends

EU consumption of sheep meat fell by 3.3% in 2023, with projections indicating a 3.5% decrease in 2024, influenced by low availability and high prices despite its importance in religious and cultural events.