Overview

The short-term outlook is based on reflections of market experts within the European Commission's Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, using the latest data available. It is published three times per year (in early spring, early summer and early autumn).

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Market outlooks are provided for the EU-27; EU-28 historic data is maintained and updated as revisions are received.

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Highlights

Autumn 2020

For the third edition this year, the short-term outlook faces the challenge of factoring in the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, with many uncertainties remaining. Compared to other sectors though, the impact of the crisis on the agri-food sector is expected to remain limited. The emerging patterns seem to mostly reinforce existing trends, such as an increase in demand for local food, short supply chains and online food sales.

Arable crops

In 2020/21, due to dry conditions over the summer influencing negatively plant development, total EU cereal production is expected to reach 274.3 million tonnes, 7% lower than in 2019/20.

Regarding oilseeds and protein crops, EU total oilseed production is expected to reach 28.4 million tonnes, a slight increase of 1% compared to 2019/20. Protein crop production should increase significantly, at 4.5 million tonnes for 2020/21, a 10% rise compared to 2019/20. Consumption of protein crops is also expected to grow thanks to a greater use in feed and a rise in food demand.

EU+UK production of sugar is estimated at 17.4 million tonnes for 2019/20, slightly lower than last year. With lower production, lower global demand and a drop in world prices, exports remained low. For 2020/21, EU production is expected to decline further, from 16.2 to 15.9 million tonnes. However, consumption is expected to recover, following a drop during Covid-19 confinement measures.

Specialised crops

EU exports for olive oil are to reach new records for 2019/20, around 820,000 tonnes. Strong retail sales during lockdown are to support an overall consumption growth of 3%. These elements should contribute to a 17% stock reduction. Total EU olive oil production for 2020/21 is estimated to increase and reach more than 2 million tonnes, up 17% compared to 2019/20.

EU production of apples is forecast at 11.5 million tonnes for 2020/21, 2% below the 5-year average. The apple market seems well balanced, with stocks from 2019/20 almost cleared.

EU production of oranges is estimated at slightly above 6.2 million tonnes for 2019/20, 5% less than the previous year. Overall consumption is declining, 2% lower than the previous year. However, the consumption of fresh oranges is increasing at the detriment of processed ones. In 2020/21, the production is forecast to increase and reach 6.6 million tonnes.

Milk and dairy

The overall EU milk collection should grow by 1.4% in 2020, thanks to an increase in milk yield. The dairy herd is expected to decrease, mainly due to increased slaughtering in the second half of the year. In 2021, EU milk production could grow at 0.8%. Following the Covid-19 outbreak, direct sales are expected to continue growing with higher demand for local food and short supply chains.

Competitive EU prices of SMP, WMP and butter continue supporting EU exports. For all three of these dairy products, export demand is growing in 2020, reaching particular high levels for SMP (850,000 tonnes) and butter (320,000 tonnes), supporting production growth.

EU consumption of cheese continues to be negatively impacted by foodservice closures, which could result in a slight decline of 0.2% in 2020. Still, EU exports are expected to grow by 5% with a positive global demand, resulting in a production increase of 0.7%. Further adjustments in foodservice and retail should help consumption to grow by 0.5% in 2021.

Meat

EU beef demand has been recovering with the reopening of restaurants and tourism catching up, leading to an overall estimated decline in beef production of 1.4%. In 2021, a further decline of 1.5% is estimated due to a reduction of herd size in some EU countries. Consumption of beef is also projected to decline by 2.1%, to 10.4 kg per capita in 2020.

As for pigmeat, favourable prices, a return of consumer demand and recent investments contributed to an increase in production in the last few months. Nonetheless, the recent discovery of African Swine fever (ASF) in Germany, which led to export bans, will impact German and therefore the EU pigmeat market. The production of pigmeat is set to decline in 2020 and 2021, respectively by 0.5% and 1%. Consumption is projected to decline by 1.1%, to 32.8 kg per capita in 2020.

EU poultry production is expected to increase in 2020 by 1%, supported by a shift in demand from other meats to poultry during lockdown. The reopening of foodservices and strong demand at retail level further contributed to this increase. Similarly, a modest growth of 1% is forecast for 2021. Consumption should also increase in 2020, up 1.5% reaching 23.7 kg per capita.

Regarding sheep and goat meat, EU production declined significantly in the first half of 2020 due to lower demand from food service and home consumption during festive periods, and strong supply shortages. Overall, production in 2020 and 2021 will respectively drop by 3% and 2%, assuming smaller herds, fewer ewes and a stagnating domestic demand. Consumption should decline in 2020 by 4%, down to 1.3 kg per capita.

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