Livestock & Feed Bussiness Worldwide: July 2017
A European agribusiness renaissance: Russia, Turkey, Spain accelerate Europe's two track feed & livestock sector
by Eric J. BROOKS
Europe has finally broken out of its staid agribusiness stereotype. For years, the world's second largest feed production region (after Asia) was a land of relatively flat feed output, little industry change and a chronic surplus of agribusiness production - but all t his is no longer true.
With China dragging down Asian agribusiness growth, Europe surprised everyone by having its feed output grow by an Alltech Global Feed Survey estimated 4.5% in 2015 and 3.4% in 2016.
The continent's impressive showing was powered by massive feed output growth in Russia (+13%), Turkey (+20%). Eastern European states such as Poland, Ukraine and Belarus all grew by 5% or more.
They were complemented by the western European exception of Spain, which has seen its feed output double over the last decade. All this was symptomatic of something far deeper: The transformation of Europe into an agricultural exporter of not just capital or technology but of meat, milk and fish.
In 2016, Russian economic woes stopped its feed sector expansion but this did not impact other Eastern European countries that do not depend on oil and gas for economic growth.
Buoyed by growth rates once taken for granted in East Asia, European feed and livestock shows significant growth momentum for the first time in decades - but this was not always the case.
To make a long story short, Eastern Europe created the opportunity but Western Europe's brains and know-how made it happen.
From the 1980s through to the early 2000s, European agribusiness was known for stagnant protein consumption and a perverse, EU-mandated Common Agricultural Policy. The latter's high minimum price floors and tight production limits on dairy and other protein lines resulted in unmarketable surplus "lakes of milk" and "mountains of butter" throughout the 1980s.
This first started to change in the early 1990s. At that time, the end of the Cold War would eventually result in the creation of a 'two-track' European agribusiness market. A mature, oversupplied western EU home base, was complemented by fast growing, rapidly expanding Eastern European agribusiness sectors.
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