Reading through a new report from the European Commission on the prospects for meat production and consumption across the European Union felt like going back in time a couple decades ago.
“In 2103, [Europe] experienced the lowest per capita meat consumption in a decade,” according to Tassos Haniotis, director of economic analysis for the EC’s directorate general for agriculture. Haniotis explained the drop as a combination of lower production, which led to higher prices, coupled “some income pressures because of the economic crisis.”
Total consumption of meat and poultry was 64.7 kg (147.84 lbs.) per person per year — the lowest in a decade. Haniotis said that will slowly increase, but only to 66.1 kg (145.4 lbs.) by 2023.
That doesn’t exactly jive with the hard-hitting headline on the news reports of the EC study, which blared “EU economist predicts fall in meat consumption.”
Mutton consumption will continue to decline in Europe, but it only represents less than 3 percent of total meat consumption. Pork consumption is projected to remain stable, but production will increase only about 2.8 percent by 2023. Why? “Environmental constraints in some of the main producing countries,” including Holland and France, according to the report.
Beef production will decline about 7 percent by 2023, compared with 2012 levels, again due to a combination of production constraints and changing consumer preferences. Poultry, on the other hand, is expected to be “dynamic” over the next decade, with consumption growing by about 1.5 percent annually through 2023, thanks to competitive pricing and consumer perceptions that chicken and turkey are healthier foods.
Okay, you’ve probably had enough statistics for now, especially when they’re as flat and boring as these.
Pork is popular? Check. People are switching from beef to chicken, because people think it’s healthier? Check. And environmental regulations will curtail significant expansion of the continent’s livestock industry? Duh.
This so-called “major economic analysis” sounds like it was written by a college freshman back in 1980s. Is Europe just now waking up to the reality of “changing consumer preferences?” Is it really news that people are eating less mutton, or that higher prices for beef tend to drive poultry sales, or that pork production cannot expand dramatically, given the regulatory structure Europeans have put in place across the EU?