UNITED KINGDOM, London. EU beef production fell by 1.2% in 2020. Although there was a 0.4% increase in the number of suckler cows (+48,000head), the dairy herd decreased by 1.1% (221,000 head). In 2021, another decrease in beef production (-0.9%) is expected, according to the European Commission’s short-term outlook.
This is because of structural adjustments in the sector, the continuing Covid-19 measures in many EU countries and low demand from foodservice. Calculated consumption of beef declined to 10.3 kg per capita in 2020 (-2.5%), and, according to the commission, this trend may continue in 2021 by -1%. This is despite the recovery of demand in the second half of 2021 assuming a progressive reopening of restaurants and return of tourism.
Beef exports grew by 1.8% in 2020, despite the economic downturn. Growth was especially strong to high value markets. Export growth overall is expected to continue in 2021 (+1%), constrained by limited domestic availability and economic uncertainty. Imports plummeted in 2020 (-21%), due to the drop in demand in the EU related to foodservices closure. Imports are expected to recover by only 2% in 2021 because of a gradual reopening of foodservices in many EU countries.