10 July 1998

MLC optimistic for meat demand

LIVESTOCK farmers should take heart from indications of a significant rise in world meat consumption.

Launching a Meat and Livestock Commission forecast of future prospects, chairman Don Curry said there were big opportunities world-wide, and in the UKs catering and processing sectors.

"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 forecast was a 2.4% annual growth in world meat consumption with more than 50% of the expansion expected in developing countries. That was important because the EU would have 900,000t of surplus beef and 700,000t of surplus pigmeat by 2005.

By then, structural change would have cut the number of farms in the UK, which would continue to decline 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 next month, but 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.

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

MLCs Don Curry – encouraging signs of increased meat demand