Close-up for beef cow's eye© Design Pics Inc/REX

Stagnant consumption, Russian sanctions and potential trade agreements are threatening the EU’s fragile beef sector, warns Copa-Cogeca.

In meetings with the EU Commission, the trade body representing farmers and agricultural co-ops underlined the poor prospects for producers.

“The beef sector is very fragile from a structural point of view and incomes are low,” warned Jean Pierre Fleury, chairman of Copa-Cogecas’ beef working party.

See also: Beef prices pressured by sluggish retail demand

“This is particularly serious for specialised beef producers as it is their only source of income.” 

“The beef sector is very fragile from a structural point of view and incomes are low.”
Jean Pierre Fleury, Copa-Cogeca

The loss of Russia – formerly the EU’s main export market for beef – had mad things worse and it was crucial to find new market outlets, said Mr Fleury.

The potential for higher slaughter rates in the dairy sector was a further destabilising threat, while trade agreements under negotiation could add extra supplies on the market, threatening EU beef production.

“This could have a serious impact in rural areas where there is no other source of employment,” said Mr Fleury.

While the US was the EU’s number one market for agriculture exports, Copa Cogeca would do its utmost to safeguard the EU beef sector and its particular production methods, said its secretary-general Pekka Pesonen.

“Also, before making further headway in the negotiations, it is crucial to address sanitary and phytosanitary [plant health] barriers.”