Beef production is forecast down for 2012 and 2013 at Livestock 2012, with fewer slaughterings and smaller herds as a result of feed price increases in the last three years.

Forecasts for prime beef show a year on year 4% drop in production with a modest recovery in 2013 on the back of increased slaughterings, while cow beef production faces a 6% drop in 2012 and a further 4% drop in 2013. 

This prediction reflects the overall picture in the EU with a fall in production of nearly 2% on average for EU15 countries in 2012. 

The biggest drop in production comes from the Republic of Ireland, where production is forecasted to be 6% less than 2011, after increased profitability in the dairy sector has impacted the size of the beef herd. Germany is set to fare the best with a fractional production drop, remaining almost level on the previous year. 

Lack of availability has impacted on the export trade. Following 29% growth in the previous two years, exports have fallen by 24% in the year to date. Due to smaller EU production forecasts, opportunities still exist in the EU community and on a global scale, according to Debbie Butcher, analyst at EBLEX. “Drivers on beef prices look to stay firm,” she said. 

Imports have remained relatively level in the last three years, with a 4% increase in the year to date. The vast majority of imports, nearly 80,000t, still come from Ireland, but “with prime cattle slaughterings in the year to date down in Ireland, treat the uplift in volume from Ireland with some caution,” said Ms Butcher. 

The national beef herd will shrink over the next two years, based on current indications, while the dairy herd is likely to level off.

For more on this topic

See our Livestock 2012 page

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