Meat & Livestock News

UK Pork Production Set for Slight Increase Amidst Global Protein Production Shifts

Rabobank’s meat industry analysts forecast a modest increase in UK pork production for 2024, contrasting with the ongoing decline in EU pork production, albeit at a reduced rate. This is part of the broader findings in Rabobank’s Global Animal Protein Outlook report, which also indicates a slowdown in global animal protein production growth due to persistently tight margins.

The report suggests that while input costs and inflation are expected to decrease, they will likely remain above pre-pandemic levels. Consequently, higher production costs and limited supplies are anticipated to elevate animal protein prices and restrict global consumption in 2024.

Despite these challenges, there is evidence that consumers are gradually adapting to higher prices, with some markets showing a willingness to pay a premium for quality.

Globally, pork production is expected to see a modest contraction. In contrast, poultry and aquaculture are the only species groups projected to experience growth in 2024. Beef production is forecasted to continue its downward trend, influenced by changes in cattle cycles in North America.

The report also notes a continued decline in the demand for plant-based meat alternatives among both customers and investors, with the foodservice sector expected to be the primary market for these products in 2024.

Regional Trends

The report provides a detailed analysis of protein production across various regions. Marginal year-on-year protein production growth of 0.5% to a total of 247 million tonnes is predicted in major markets such as North America, Brazil, Europe, Oceania, China, and Southeast Asia. This marks a slowdown from the 1% production growth of 2.1 million tonnes in 2023.

Brazil and Southeast Asia are expected to show the fastest production growth for poultry and meat. In Brazil, growth is anticipated across all species Rabobank tracks, led by pork and poultry, though at a slower pace compared to 2023 levels.

China and the Oceania countries of Australia and New Zealand will see marginal growth, with poultry best positioned in China and pork and beef under pressure. Europe and North America are projected to experience an overall production contraction.

Specifics on Pork Production

In the EU, pork production is forecasted to decline by 3% next year, a slowing of the contraction seen over the past two years. The return to positive margins on the back of record prices and easing feed costs has slowed the decline of the sow herd in the eight main EU pig-producing countries.

In the UK, a cautious growth of 2% is forecasted, based on higher production intentions on pig farms in the second half of 2023. In China, the key global market, pork production is predicted to remain flat or drop slightly on 2023 levels, following a herd contraction this year. Pork production growth is also forecasted in Vietnam.

North American Trends

In North America, pig breeding herds are expected to see modest contraction next year, as pig prices continue to lag behind rising costs. A 0.6% decline in North American pork production is forecasted, with larger falls in the US and Canada and a 1.6% increase in Mexico. US exports are expected to rise by a further 3% after a strong 2023.

Industry Resilience and Adaptation

Commenting on the overall protein picture, Justin Sherrard, global strategist animal protein at Rabobank, noted the resilience and flexibility of companies in the animal protein supply chain.

He emphasised the importance of adapting to market changes, focusing on improving productivity, reviewing portfolios, strengthening supply chain partnerships, investing in new product development, and adjusting pricing strategies to navigate the challenges of the coming year.

This comprehensive report by Rabobank provides valuable insights into the trends and forecasts for animal protein production, both in the UK and globally, as the industry prepares to navigate a challenging economic environment in 2024.