China the largest beef producer

China looks set to overtake the EU as the world's third largest beef producer according to figures produced by Meat and Livestock Commission's Economics department.

Their latest publication, International Meat Market Review points out little of the extra Chinese production will hit the international market as it will be swallowed up by rising domestic demand.

In the pig market, disease outbreaks meant tighter supplies coupled with sharp price increases in 2007, which in turn stimulated demand for substitute proteins such as beef.

Argentina and Brazil also increased production in 2007, with further increases forecast for this year.

During the first nine months of 2007, EU beef exports were significantly lower year-on-year as Brazilian supplies provided increased competition on the key Russian market.

The outlook for the EU is less optimistic; the report suggests that beef production will continue on a downward trend as a result of the structural contraction of the dairy herd and the policy decision to decouple EU support from production.

MLC industry services manager Jenny Spencer said: "The sharp rise in world cereal prices has had a detrimental impact on producer costs, particularly for those countries in southern Europe which rely more heavily on feedlots.

"France and Spain are the only member states of any significance expected to show an increase in beef and pork production".

Continuing high feed costs look set to remain a factor in EU pig production; although output in 2007 was higher than a year ago, a fall is foreseen for 2008 as the impact of worldwide grain shortages and corresponding high feed prices make an impact. Sheep meat production in the EU is also falling.

The International Meat Market Review is a biannual country-by-country overview of trends in production, trade and prices in the main EU meat-producing countries and principal world markets.

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