06 July 1998
Chance for livestock farmers as world eats more meat

By Robert Davies

MEAT consumption is on the rise worldwide – offering big opportunities for the livestock farmer, says Meat and Livestock Commission chairman Don Curry.

The UKs catering and processing sectors hold promise for the livestock industry, too, said Mr Curry, launching the MLCs upbeat forecast.

But MLC forecasters warn that farm numbers would reduce, even though EU surpluses would burgeon. And quality assurance schemes can not be ignored by farmers selling to retailers if they hoped to avoid a difficult future, says the MLC.

“This report concludes that all is not doom and gloom,” said Mr Curry. “There are long-term opportunities – but there are challenges, too, and the British industry needs to improve competitiveness, particularly in relation to other EU countries.”

The MLC forecasts a 2.4% annual increase in world meat consumption, with more than 50% of the expansion in developing countries.

This was important, says the MLC, because the EU would have 900,000t of surplus beef and 700,000t of surplus pigmeat by 2005. By then, structural change would have reduced the number of farms in the UK to about 214,000, with just 9000 pig units and 69,000 sheep flocks.

The MLC will publish a comprehensive review of the breeding and management implications of its forecast next month.

The future trends review warns that the industry is entering an era where lower farm prices must prevail to enable the EU to meet its international trade obligations, and to export without the aid of export refunds.

It also suggests producers who do not belong to quality assurance schemes may find it increasingly difficult to sell their animals for the retail market.