In 2019, Belgium exported 172,973 tonnes of beef. This was a 12% decrease, representing 24,294 tonnes, compared to 2018. This was, among other things, the result of a smaller cattle stock and reduced production. Some 93% of Belgian beef was exported to EU countries, with the remaining 7% going to third countries.
In 2019, Belgium’s cattle stock amounted to 2,373,100 head, which is a decrease of 1% or 24,990 animals compared to 2018. However, production fell by 263,750 tonnes Carcass-Weight Equivalent (CWE). This amounts to a decrease of 4.9% or 13,560 tonnes compared with 2018 and a decrease of 0.5% on an annual basis over the past five years.
EU: exports to the primary EU markets also decreased
Belgium’s three largest neighbouring countries, so the Netherlands, France and Germany, took in 73% of total exports in 2019. However, exports of Belgian beef to these markets declined. Exports to the Netherlands fell by 10%, those to France by only 1.4%, and those to Germany by 19%.
Italy and Luxembourg completed the top five export countries. Shipments to Luxembourg actually increased by 17%, with the country importing 4,316 tonnes of Belgian beef. Nevertheless, Luxembourg was the exception and exports to the other top-10 countries also decreased.
Third countries: Ivory Coast and Ghana continued to be key partners
Although exports to both countries decreased, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana remained the main third-country export markets. With 4,227 tonnes and a fall of 17% compared to the previous year, Côte d’Ivoire was still sixth in the overall ranking. Ghana, on the other hand, dropped to tenth place with exports of 2,536 tonnes, a 59% decrease.
Belgium exported 76% in cuts, mainly fresh quarters (29%), fresh deboned cuts (21%) and fresh forequarters (10%). By-products accounted for 24% of exports.