Over the past decade, the global herd has been growing slowly but surely. The main growth is occurring on emerging markets such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. However, in 2019 the growth in production was stronger than in previous years. More animals were slaughtered due to the higher livestock prices and the average carcass weight continues to increase steadily. Consumption is growing along with the extra production. Trade, in turn, is also flourishing thanks to the higher demand from Asia and the supply that is available. This growth is expected to continue in 2020.
The European beef sector
It is a different story in Europe. In 2018, large stocks and strong production linked to weak demand lead to falling prices on the European beef market. However, production also fell in 2019. As a result of the sluggish economy and widespread negative media attention due to climate change, consumption fell further in 2019. Exports, on the other hand, rose by 9% thanks to high Asian demand. It is mainly Ireland that can benefit following the approval of 14 producers giving them direct access to China. European imports shrank by just under 4% as a result of falling demand and major exporters focussing on Asia.
In 2020, a further reduction in production is expected. In addition, consumption will also remain weak and fall faster than production. Prices will recover compared to 2019 since the herd is shrinking, but at the same time, recovery will be tempered by falling demand for mostly the better cuts.