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EU economist predicts fall in meat consumption

By Carmen Paun, in Brussels , 16-Jan-2014
Last updated on 16-Jan-2014 at 11:36 GMT

Meat consumption will never reach previous levels, Tassos Haniotis, director of economic analysis at the European Commission’s directorate general for agriculture said on Tuesday.

Speaking during the launch of the European Commission report on prospects for agricultural markets and income in the European Union (EU) between 2013 and 2023, Haniotis explained: “In 2013 we have had the lowest per capita meat consumption level we have seen in a decade – 64.7kg retail weight – explained by lower production that led to higher prices and by some income pressures because of the economic crisis. While this level is expected to increase, it is estimated that in 2023 it will reach only 66.1kg, similar to the 2011 amount."

The consumption of beef and sheep meat will drop over the next 10 years, according to the European Commission report. This will continue the trend that has been observed over the past years, according to Haniotis. Sheep meat is the least consumed in the EU, accounting for only 2.7% of the total meat consumption, the report said.

Beef production will also see a decline, calculated by Brussels at 7% compared to the 2010-2012 average. The current estimate shows that beef production will reach 7.6 million tonnes (mt) in 2023.

Pork will remain Europe’s favourite meat over the next 10 years, the report stated. But pork meat production is expected to increase by only 2.8% compared to 2010-2012 average to reach 23.4mt in 2023. “This increase is moderate because of environmental constraints in some of the main producing countries, such as the Netherlands and parts of France,” the report noted.

The document brought good news for the poultry meat market, which is expected to be the most dynamic over the next decade, due to the meat’s cheaper price, convenience and healthy image. The consumption of poultry is thus expected to grow by 1.5% annually, according to Haniotis. By 2023, poultry production should reach 13.6mt based on current projections, expanding at 0.8% per year compared to 2012.

The estimations do not look the same as good for sheep and goat meat. Their production will continue the downward trend for the decade to come, although at a much slower rate than in the past. This is only if EU countries keep their direct support for the production of this kind of meat, while applying the union’s reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the report warned.

“It shows the need for the member states to take the appropriate decisions with regard to the implementation of the CAP reform on their territories in order to avoid a further decrease in beef and sheep meat production and negative consequences in term of jobs and rural development,” Jean-Luc Mériaux, secretary general at the European Livestock And Meat Trading Union (UECBV) told globalmeatnews.com.

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