The 2012 cereal harvest in the EU is expected to be slightly higher than in 2011, with the usable production reaching 286 mio t (up 0.6%), thus leaving the cereal balance tight for the marketing year 2012/13. During 2011/12 cereal supplies slightly exceeded demand, but not sufficiently to ease the tight balance, leaving the stock- to-domestic-use ratio at 13.6%. In oilseeds and protein crops, the 2012 harvest is expected to decline to 18.8 mio t for rapeseed (down from 19.2 mio t), 8.0 mio t for sunflower seed (down from 8.4) and 2.5 mio t for protein crops (down from 2.7 mio t).
The contraction of the EU animal herd in 2011 is expected to lead to a decline in the overall meat production by 0.4% in 2012 and 1.0% in 2013. The high prices resulting from this tight domestic supply, as well as the sluggish demand linked to the unfavourable EU economic outlook, would lead to a reduction in total EU meat consumption, which is projected to decline by 0.8% in 2012 and by 0.4% in 2013. The weak demand and the current depreciation of the Euro could constrain total EU meat imports in 2012, with a slight decline (-1%) expected compared to the previous year. On the other hand, strong global demand could drive exported volumes at a 3.6% increase. The prospects differ by type of meat, with poultry notably expected to increase its share on both EU total meat production and consumption over the outlook period.
Despite a decline in pig population by 1.7% (-3.2% for sows), the EU pig meat production is expected to remain stable in 2012 and then to decline by 2% the following year. This effect would be mainly caused by a further reduction in the sow herd, as new animal welfare rules on group housing of pregnant sows will become obligatory from 20138, therefore requiring significant investments for pig producers. Although several Member States have launched initiatives to financially support farmers to adjust to the new requirements, producers that have not adapted their production technology during the transitional period of 10 years might come under pressure and cease their activity. The new Member States are less affected, as substantial investments in production systems were made after accession.
As regards trade, the current weak Euro and the robust global demand, particularly in China, lead to a favourable outlook for EU exports in 2012, with an expected increase of 3.5% following the exceptional growth registered in 2011. On the contrary, in 2013, exports are foreseen to decline by more than 10%, as a consequence of the production drop. EU pigmeat imports are always marginal and would further decline, both in 2012 and 2013, to settle at around 13-14 thousand tons per year. Consumption is expected to decrease slightly in both years (-0.4% and -1.0% respectively). Pigmeat prices are likely to remain at elevated levels throughout 2012. Although feed costs are also high (especially for soya), producer margins are stable and above the average of the last five years.
July 2012/ DG Agriculture and Rural Development/ European Commission.