EU on track to shift back to net beef imports
The EU is set to return to being a net importer of beef next year as production within the zone is predicted to drop by 2pc.
The EU's Short Term Outlook for beef has pointed to a tightening in supplies of beef and sheep meat next year, stable pig production and a slight increase in poultry meat production, in response to a higher demand for the cheapest meat. It will represent a turn-around for the EU after it became a net exporter of beef for the first time in eight years this year. A 2.4pc increase in beef production last year, combined with strong world demand, facilitated the 36,000t increase in exports this year.
However, beef exports are predicted to fall by almost 30pc in 2012 and imports are set to increase by more than 7pc. Imports of sheep meat are also forecast to increase by almost 14pc next year and exports to decline by more than 8pc. Imports of pig meat are predicted to increase by 8pc and exports to decline by 2pc next year.
Bord Bia's Gerard Brickley said that the reduction in beef output next year is being attributed to the continual decline in the cow herd, as well as the increased kill this year. He said that the report does not speculate on any major change in demand within the EU on foot of worsening economic circumstances.
"Also unknown is the extent to which international demand may change," he said. "Strong demand for pig meat from Russia and the Far East has played a significant role in supporting prices this year, as has international demand for beef and live cattle."