This week’s EU Outlook conference in Brussels revealed that global meat demand is expected to grow by 1.4% annually, meaning that an extra 3.4m tonnes of meat will be required by 2031 to meet this demand.

The main driver of this growth is the combination of increasing global population and higher incomes in developing countries.

However, within the EU, a small decline in total meat consumption to 67kg per person is forecast.

Per-capita beef consumption is forecast to decline by 0.9kg per person, falling from 10.6kg per person in 2020 to 9.7kg per person in 2031.

Lab-produced meat alternatives are not expected to become a competitor in the next decade and while plant-based alternatives will increase from the 1% they had of meat sales in 2020, it is still expected to have a small market share in 2030.

Global dairy demand

Global dairy demand is also forecast to increase in the outlook to 2031, with Asia (excluding India) leading the way with annual growth of 17%, followed by Africa with a 14% increase in demand.

As with meat, this is explained by rising incomes and westernisation of diets. Growth in EU consumption of dairy products is forecast to be modest over the next decade, with exports taking most of the increased production.

Production and value

EU dairy production growth is expected to slow to 0.5% per annum, reaching 162m tonnes by 2031, which will still leave the EU the largest player in the global dairy trade, with a 30% share. EU raw milk price is forecast to reach around €39/t by 2031.

EU beef production is forecast to fall by 600,000t or 8% over the next decade, with a drop in the total cow herd of 2.1m - 665,000 of which will be sucklers. Beef prices are forecast to range between €3,700t and €3,800t.

EU pigmeat exports are forecast to decline by 1.9% per year over the decade as China completes restocking, while EU consumption is expected to decline by 1.5kg per person to 31kg in 2031.

Increase in EU poultry consumption is forecast to increase from 23.5kg per person to 24.8kg per person by 2031.


Sheepmeat production is predicted to increase by 660,000t or 3.5% in the EU by 2031, driven by coupled support, tight world supply and better producer prices.

Per-capita consumption is also forecast to increase slightly to 1.4kg per person by 2031.

There are some concerns about the impact of the UK trade deals with Australia and New Zealand on EU exports to the UK. However, the report believes that Australia and New Zealand will remain focused on Asian markets, with international shipping a particular problem for Australia and New Zealand exporters.

Irish sheep farmers will welcome the EU forecast that “after the peak in 2021, EU prices are to follow an upward trend, following the developments in world market prices”.