EU Outlook: Meat production and consumption 2022 - 2032

Earlier this year, there were some signs of a post-COVID recovery which firstly led to increasing demand, while some disruptions occurred in supply and trade (e.g. missing and costly containers, severe congestion in ports) as demand grew unevenly - also because it was still constrained by new waves of COVID-19.

Posted on Jan 02 ,04:24

EU Outlook: Meat production and consumption 2022 - 2032

In particular, the zero-COVID policy applied by China contributed to many disruptions. At the same time, commodity prices and input costs started to increase. This environment of already increasing prices and costs experienced new shocks when Russia invaded Ukraine in February. These shocks also brought further uncertainties to energy as well as agricultural markets and global food security. The duration, implications and further developments of this invasion remain a great source of uncertainties that are shaping the 2022-2032 outlook for EU agriculture. These challenges came on top of the changes already observed due to climate change, disruptive weather events and outbreaks of animal diseases, and put the resilience of EU agriculture to the test. However, they also increased the need to act, and to facilitate the transition of EU agriculture towards higher sustainability standards, into a more resilient food system, and strengthened food security.

Until now, the EU has been able to increase agricultural productivity and thereby also production, which led to increasing trade surpluses, while greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have stagnated since 2010, which made the EU an exception among the largest global agricultural producers. More generally, the European food system has become a globally trusted provider of safe, nutritious, and high-quality food. In 2023-2032, driven by the challenges faced in the last two years and by the policy changes initiated by the new CAP, EU agriculture is expected to become more sustainable. In this respect, the economic sustainability of EU farms is due to be supported via continued income support but also through other incentives (e.g. promotion) which could help farmers not only to add additional value to their products but create market opportunities for them. The environmental sustainability will strongly be reinforced through enhanced conditionality and other actions to protect natural resources, biodiversity, soil health, and help to adapt and mitigate climate change impacts. Last, but not least, social sustainability will be reflected via a stronger focus on animal welfare, but also rising concerns of consumers for nutrition and health, with some likely changes taking place in the EU dietary patterns. Through an increased sustainability, also the long-term resilience of EU agriculture could be improved. At the same time, current sustainability commitments (e.g. COP21, SDGs), which are further supported through the new CAP, also reinforce food security.

Sustainability and social concerns should take a more prominent role in shaping EU meat production and consumption. In this context, the most important outcomes that could be expected by 2032 include lower per capita meat consumption,  lower production based on more extensive and environmentally friendly systems, along with fewer animals or lower density. Poultry will be the only sector to expand in terms of production and consumption. However, spread of animal diseases, the aftermath of Brexit and certain free trade agreements under negotiation will be important factors. Moreover, the dependencies on global markets and current political events add further uncertainty and might alter the prospects for trade relations. While world consumption and import demand are expected to expand (except for pigmeat) opportunities for EU export growth should mostly benefit the poultry sector. EU prices, although generally higher, will continue to reflect changes in world prices.

Global meat consumption and import demand to increase By 2032, global meat consumption is expected to continue growing (+43 million t in 10 years), due to population growth and higher incomes, mainly in developing countries. A large part of the additional world demand will be met by domestic production. However, 1.8 million t of poultry and 1.3 million t of beef will need to come from increased global trade to cover the supply deficit in many countries. The EU will only benefit to a limited extent from this additional demand (mainly for poultry meat). The recovery of pigmeat production in China and the rest of Asia will play a determining factor for EU exports. A greater awareness of sustainability in meat production and consumption Sustainability will play an increasingly prominent role in EU meat markets for both producers and consumers. Although modernisation, innovative technologies and changes in farming practices could lead to more efficient and more environmentally friendly meat production, concrete investment decisions could remain a challenge given the uncertainty of the returns. Consumer concerns about the environment and climate change will result in more attention being paid to production processes and where meat products come from (e.g. local sourcing, organic and other quality schemes, animal welfare, deforestation and the environmental footprint). Other drivers changing consumer habits range from health considerations (lower or no intake of animal-based proteins) to convenience (with a shift from fresh meat towards more processed meat and preparations). The EU population will have fallen by 2032, and diets of older people (smaller portions) and young adults (less portions) include less meat. Cultivated meat is not expected to become a big competitor for meat in the next 10 years because of possibly lower consumer acceptance, price positioning and regulatory requirements. The shift to plantbased diets could lead to a growing number of protein alternatives to meat, but they are expected to continue having a very small market share. EU per capita meat consumption drops to 66 kg by 2032 After a dip in consumption due to COVID-19 restrictions and the exceptional exports to China, EU meat consumption is set to further decline from a relatively low average compared to previous years (67.5 kg per capita in 2020-2022) to 66 kg by 2032 (-2.2 %). This is unlike past decades when the EU experiences a gradual increase in meat consumption. The overall decline will be accompanied by a change in the consumer basket with an expected shift from some types of red meat (beef, pigmeat) to white meat (poultry). Sheep meat consumption is expected to stabilise due to its low availability and sustained demand despite relatively high prices.

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