Europe’s beef and dairy herds are expected to decline over the next 10 years due to sustainability goals and changing consumer trends, a new EU Commission report has warned.
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While world meat consumption is projected to grow by 1.4pc per year, largely driven by demand in developing countries, EU beef production and consumption is expected to fall.

On the dairy side, the EU Agricultural Outlook for Markets, Income and Environment 2021-2031 – which excludes the impact of the recently agreed CAP reform because the policy is not yet implemented – says achieving the EU’s sustainability objectives could translate into “a slowdown” in annual growth of 0.5pc per year; with a decline of 1.5 million dairy cows forecast.

It states: “Following the decline in the EU cattle herd, production of beef is expected to fall. EU beef consumption is due to decline by 0.9kg per capita following a long-term trend.

“Meat export opportunities may improve in the medium term but will be offset by a decline of live animal exports due to the lower demand in Turkey and animal welfare concerns over long-distance transport.

“EU beef imports could rise slowly but stay below the 2019 level because of high global demand.”

Under dairy the report adds: “Alternatives to conventional systems will gain a greater market share, resulting in a lower annual yield (1.2pc compared to 1.9pc in 2011-2021) and offsetting stronger dairy herd reduction (-1.5 million cows by 2031).

“Organic milk production is expected to reach 8pc in 2031 (3.5pc in 2019), providing economic value, environmental benefits and satisfying societal demands for example animal welfare.”

Despite the slowdown, it’s expected the EU will remain the largest dairy supplier in the world market (30pc of global dairy trade in 2031), ahead of New Zealand and the US.

It says demand for feed from arable crops is also expected to decrease due to the decline in the EU’s beef, dairy and pig herds.

However, it says EU sheep meat production is expected to increase slightly by 3.5pc per year over the next decade underpinned by “tight world supply and improving prices for producers”.

The outlook covers the period from 2021 to 2031 and reflects agricultural and trade policies in place in November 2021. Global projections are based on the OECD-FAO Agricultural

Outlook 2021-2030 updated with the most recent macroeconomic and market data.

Eight butter products sold nationally in various supermarkets are being recalled over fears of contamination.

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