Global meat imports will drop in 2009

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has predicted that global import demand for meat will fall for the first time in over a decade this year.

Deterioration in the global economy, restrictive trade policies and changing market have all contributed to falling demand for meat in major importing countries. The USDA predicts that global pork imports will fall this most, by an estimated 13%, while global poultry imports and beef imports will fall by 2% and 3% respectively.

The USDA predicts that global beef consumption will decline as the recession forces consumers to shift to lower cost animal proteins such as pork and poultry and non-animal proteins such as fish.

EU beef imports are expected to rise as more Brazilian farms become eligible to ship beef to Europe, but the USDA expects that weaker beef demand amongst principal importers such as Russia, Mexico and South Korea will more than offsett this growth.

Lower imports are expected for 8 out of the 10 top pork importing countries. Increased production in China and restrictive trade policies in Russia are the main reasons behind the steep drop in global imports. Total global pork exports are expected to decline by 12% in 2009, while EU exports forecast to decline by 27% as a result of tighter supplies and deteriorating export opportunities.

Global poultry imports, which have surged by nearly 30% over the past three years, are forecast to drop in 2009 as a result of restrictive import policies, high tariffs and weaker currencies in Russia and Ukraine and oversupply in Japan. EU imports of poultry are expected to rise as despite rising domestic poultry prices, consumption continues to grow.

EU exports of poultry meat are expected to face increasing competition from lower-cost countries such as Brazil and the US.

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