EU expected to produce less meat in decade ahead

Environmental, animal welfare concerns shape consumption
calendar icon 8 December 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The European Union is expected to produce less meat, wine and sugar and grow more protein crops in the decade ahead as health, environment and animal welfare concerns continue to shape consumption, Reuters reported, citing the European Commission on Thursday.

Production of crops like cereals and oilseeds will be capped by climate change and pesticide restrictions, and grain demand more weighted towards exports as biofuel and livestock feed use decline, the Commission said in a report.

Aggregate EU meat production was projected to drop by nearly 5% by 2035 compared with the 2021-2023 average, led by a potential decline of about 9% in both beef and pork output, the Commission said in an annual medium-term agricultural outlook.

It projected a 7% fall in per capita consumption of both beef and pork in the EU over the period.

Livestock farming has been at the heart of bitter negotiations over future agricultural standards in Europe, with Commission proposals resisted by some countries and rural groups.

A trend in Europe towards consuming less sugar and drinking less wine would also have a significant impact on those sectors.

Wine output was projected to drop by around 7% by 2035, though exports would continue to rise albeit more slowly than previously, the Commission said.

Sugar production would ease by nearly 1%, but partly be compensated by an expected increase for sweetener isoglucose.

The anticipated drop in sugar consumption would reduce EU imports, the Commission added.

EU production of soybeans and pulses was projected to rise by 30% and 42%, respectively, supported by plant-protein diets and concerns over deforestation in imported crops, it said.

For the EU's main field crops, soft wheat production would be little changed by 2035 at 128.5 million metric tons, while export demand expected to offset weaker feed use within the EU.

Rapeseed output was seen down 3% over the period, pressured by an anticipated decline in use of crop-based biofuel.

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