The European Commission is predicting a fall in meat consumption for 2020, due to changes in consumer demand during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Annual meat consumption across the EU could decline to 65.4kg per capita this year, a decline of 2.5%, due to the reduction in consumer demand, and subdued domestic availability not being compensated by imports.

On the production side, while pigmeat production is set to increase marginally by 0.5% this year, production for beef, poultry and sheepmeat (and goat meat) will decrease by 1.7%, 2% and 1.5% respectively.

The commission’s short-term outlook for agricultural markets also predicts a fall in quarter two (Q2) slaughterings as a result of the closure of food services due to Covid-19 – though a broad recovery is expected in the second half of the year.

Despite the rise in production for pigmeat, African swine fever (ASF) still poses a risk for that sector, apart from any challenges brought on by Covid-19.

The outlook also states that after a recent decline in prices, these have started to pick-up again due to the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Despite the drop in overall production, EU meat exports are due to increase in 2020 (except poultry). This overall increase will be particularly strong for pigmeat, due to demand from China, which will remain by far the leading destination for EU pigmeat.

Meanwhile, EU meat imports are likely to fall as animal and meat availabilities decrease.


Turning attention to the short-term outlook for dairy, the strong EU milk collection growth seen until April is expected to slow down in the remainder of the year, resulting in a 0.7% overall increase on last year.

Increasing yields will be accompanied by a decline in the EU dairy herd, with cow slaughterings expected to increase in response to recovering meat prices.

EU butter and skim milk powder (SMP) prices suffered declining trends during the Covid-19 outbreak, but this trend was recently reversed, the outlook report notes.

Retail sales of EU dairy products remain high, especially for products benefiting from the demand for home cooking and baking. However, this is not expected to fully compensate for the losses in food services, in particular for cheese and fresh dairy products.

The EU is competitive in global markets for SMP, whole milk powder (WMP) and butter. This is expected to allow for a significant increase in butter exports, sustained WMP flows and SMP export levels similar to 2018, despite lower initial availabilities compared to previous years.