During the first five months of the year, livestock prices in the EU and the UK had generally been on a downward trajectory (particularly between March and May), probably reflecting changes in supply and demand caused by the coronavirus. Since May, prices have been largely recovering, possibly with the easing of lockdown measures and improving demand for food services. A lower level of imports and production may also have contributed. To this is added that production fell by 5% (2.7 million tons of beef), than in the same period of 2019.
Production was lower in almost all countries, including the main producers (France, Germany). The largest drop in production during the period was recorded in Italy, which produced 50,000 tonnes (-16%) less of beef than in the same period last year.
Without a doubt, Italy’s beef sector would have been constrained following the strict closures that were implemented in response to the coronavirus, being one of the first EU member states to do so.
The lower production has been largely accompanied by a drop in exports, which over the five-month period fell 4% compared to 2019 to 282,300 tonnes. The drop in shipments to the UK was the main factor driving the drop in exports, mainly in volumes shipped from Ireland. EU shipments to several smaller destinations grew, including China, Canada and Japan, but not enough to make up for the loss in the UK.