LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg. Slightly more cattle were slaughtered in the European Union from January to May than in the same period last year, but beef production remained virtually unchanged.
According to preliminary data from the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), 9.24 million animals were hooked in the 27 member states, which was 66,500 head or 0.7% more than in the same period last year. The volume of beef produced remained virtually unchanged at around 2.73 mill. t. In addition to lower slaughter weights, this was also due to a proportionately higher number of lighter female cattle being slaughtered. For example, the volume of cows delivered to slaughterhouses increased by 2.1% to 2.54 million head, while heifers rose by 1.5% to 1.50 million head.
For bulls and steers, slaughter volume increased 0.6% to 2.88 million head compared to the first five months of 2020, according to Eurostat; however, the resulting beef volume decreased 0.8% to 1.06 mill. t. More beef was produced in the Iberian Peninsula, according to preliminary data, where production increased 8.1% to 40,560 t in Portugal and 6.5% to 282,330 t in Spain. Whereas in Spain it was mainly bulls that were hooked more, in Portugal it was cows.
Beef production in Denmark increased at an above-average rate of 3.3% to 48,000 tons. According to Eurostat, the largest EU producer, France, produced 590,730 t of beef in its reporting slaughterhouses, 9,900 t or 1.7% more than in the same period last year. In contrast, a moderate decline of 1.1% to 433,000 t was reported for Germany, and a minus of 3% to 87,790 t for Austria.
Irish production fell even more sharply, by 7.1% to just under 231,000 t. In this context, production of heifer meat was down by almost 10% and that of steers and bulls by just under 9%. On the other hand, the 3.8% increase in cow slaughtering increased the volume of meat from these animals by 2.6% to 43,160 t.