November 26, 2021


EU beef production and imports lower: AHDB report


For the first eight months of 2021, beef production in the European Union was 1% lower year-on-year in volume, totalling 4.4 million tonnes, the United Kingdom's Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reported. Imports in volume terms fell 12% over the same period to 298,000 tonnes.

14.9 million cattle and calves were slaughtered, nearly unchanged compared to the same period last year.

Ireland continues to be the main reason for the decline, recording an 8% annual fall in production over the same period. Production was also lower in several other countries, including Germany, Poland and Belgium. Spain however showed a significant increase in production, up 6%. Numbers for the EU's biggest beef producer, France, were almost unchanged.

The EU Commission forecasts cattle slaughter to increase in the second half of 2021, supported by high cattle prices and rising feed costs. Overall production in 2021 is forecast at -0.5% from 2020. Production is expected to shrink further into 2022.

Trade friction between the EU and UK continues to impact EU beef trade figures. Nonetheless EU beef exports for January to August rose 1% to 137,000 tonnes, led by growth to Norway and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Growth also came Asia, including Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Imports slumped 12% over the same period to 298,000 tonnes. This was mostly due to less beef imported from the UK. Smaller shipments also came from Argentina and Australia. Cattle supplies are tighter globally, limiting volumes from key regions.

EU beef trade is expected to recover by end 2021, underpinned by export growth as EU foodservice markets reopen and require more imported beef, the AHDB report said. However, recent COVID-19 measures and new lockdowns in some areas may upset this forecast.