EU beef production decreased in 2023 by 3.9% when compared with the year previous, the European Commission's short-term outlook has shown.

At the same time as production dropping, the average carcase weight decreased by 0.6%.

Among the largest producing countries, Italy's production declined the most and was down 17% by 127,000t. This, according to the report, was due mostly to a shortage of imported live animals.

France was next with 4.4% of a drop and Poland with a 4.8% decrease.

Decline in cow numbers

In the December 2023 livestock survey, the number of suckler cows in the EU declined for the fourth year in a row by 160,000 head or 1.6%.

Dairy cows recorded a decline of 344,000 head (-1.7%).

The number of male bovine cattle for slaughtering between one and two years plus those above two years also decreased by 0.4% and 1.2% respectively. These figures are expected to have an impact on beef availability in the coming period.

However, the tight situation between meat demand and supply supported relatively high market prices in 2023.

"EU beef production in 2024 is expected to decrease further by 2.3%. This lower beef supply could continue supporting EU beef producer prices," the outlook said.


Beef consumption per capita in 2023 dropped 4.7% year on year in 2023 to to 9.7kg per capita.

"As the market situation in 2024 looks quite similar, the expectation is that the drop in consumption could continue by 2.8%," it said.