World beef and veal consumption is likely to drop by more than 429,000 tonnes in 2010, according to food industry consultant GIRA.

But with production set to fall by 709,000 tonnes (carcass weight equivalent), lower supply will more than offset the reduced demand, says the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland in its latest report.

Following the global recession, demand for beef will remain under pressure in many parts of the world this year, with American consumption forecast to fall by 1.2% and EU consumption down by 1%. China will see a larger drop of 5.5%, with Argentina down by 7%, says the report.

The trend continues that seen last year, when both supply and demand contracted. It is predicted that the global herd could decline by a further 5m head (0.5%) in 2010. A large proportion of this will be in Argentina, which cut its herd by 2m head last year and is forecast to reduce it by a further 2m head this year, resulting in a 9% decline in production. Although Brazil is set to increase its herd this year, exports to Europe will remain subdued due to strong domestic demand and exchange rates.