The cost of farm inputs in the EU remain well above pre-COVID-19 levels at 32%, the European Commission’s short-term outlook has found.

Some inputs continue to be affected by inflation, such as those related to investments.

“The affordability of fertilisers has been improving as EU fertiliser production continues to recover. Imports of nitrogen (N) fertiliser remain at historically high levels, while imports of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) decreased significantly, indicating a drop in the use of P and K that may negatively impact soil fertility,” the outlook said.

Looking ahead, overall input prices are likely to decrease by 1.9% in the last quarter of 2024, but remain still largely above pre-COVID levels (32% in total and up to 65% for fertilisers).

Meat outlook

EU beef production is expected to decrease further in 2024, by 2.3%, mainly due to a continuing structural adjustment in the beef and dairy sector.

“EU imports could go up, mainly due to increasing imports from Brazil. Despite high domestic prices, EU exports continue to perform very well, also thanks to reopening of some markets, leading to a drop in EU per-capita beef consumption of 2.8%,” the report found.

A slightly bigger sow herd (+1.6%) could indicate the first signs of a recovery in the sector. Nevertheless, it said that EU pigmeat production could fall slightly by 0.4% in 2024.

On the export front, lower demand from China and other destinations could slow down EU exports by 4% in 2024, making more produce available for the domestic market.


EU poultry production could benefit from a 1.7% growth in 2024 thanks to rather good market prospects, both on the supply and demand side, the Commission said.

“On the other hand, EU poultry prices make its exports less competitive compared to Brazil, Ukraine and Thailand. Uncertainty around highly pathogenic avian influenza incidence in Europe and the Americas continue,” it added.

The historically low EU sheep flock pushes slaughterings down by 4.9% in 2024.

It added that sustained demand and high domestic prices keep imports high (+2.5% in 2024), while meat exports decline further by 2% due to a lack of competitiveness.