Recovery is predicted for the EU’s strongest economies, the EU15 — Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain. The news is mixed for other EU member states.
“Beef output in the EU15 fell by over 4% to 6.6 million tonnes in 2013, driven by declines in countries such as Italy, Germany, France and the UK,” Bord Bia business analyst Eoin Kelly stated. “These declines are set to be reversed this year with a recovery in supply forecast for the EU15, bringing output back toward the levels seen in 2012. This increase is expected to be aided by a 6% rise in Irish output, while further recovery in production is also expected in Belgium and the Netherlands, where a rise of over 8% is forecast for both countries.”
Looking towards 2015, all preliminary industry forecasts show beef output in the EU is expected to stabilise.
Consumption levels within the EU fell by over 2% last year, but this trend is set to be reversed in 2014 with growth of 1% anticipated to 7.2 million tonnes. A further increase in consumption is expected for 2015.
However, writing in the latest edition of Bord Bia’s industry publication Food Alert, Mr Kelly noted that beef outputs and consumption levels outside of the EU15 are expected to continue to decline. He cites industry predictions of a continuing decline in Polish beef, down more than 5% last year and expected to continue downward.
“The EU continues to be a net exporter of beef. However, exports in 2013 were down by 11% on 2012 figures,” stated Mr Kelly. “This decline is largely driven by a 28% and 94% reduction in exports to Russia and Turkey, respectively. Despite lower exports, increased trade was recorded to African countries such as Algeria and Asian markets such as Hong Kong.
“The majority of beef imports into the EU continue to come from South America, USA and Oceania. Imports into the EU in 2013 were up by over 8% on 2012 figures, driven largely by a 15% and 32% increase in imports from Brazil and Australia, respectively.”
Meanwhile, the IFA has urged Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to meet with the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michele O’Neill to seek a removal of blockages being put in the way of the live export trade to the North.
IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns said Mr Coveney and Bord Bia need to engage with the major retail and processing groups and insist that Irish livestock are not blocked out of the market with “artificial anti-competitive barriers”.
Mr Burns said IFA held discussions on disputed beef prices and specifications with the National Farmers Union from England and Wales, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union. “All representatives were very clear that the recent factory beef price cuts and abrupt changes to specification were damaging confidence in the beef sector and had inflicted significant pressure on winter finishers.”
He said it was not acceptable that some factories are attempting to apply a 400kg weight limit here, while the same meat company dealing with the same retailers in the same market are operating a 450kg limit in other jurisdictions.