Global meat production has seen a steady growth for the last two decades but that is about to change with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) forecasting a 1% decline to 335m tonnes during 2019 – mostly as a result of African Swine Fever in China.

As published in last week's issue, China’s pork output is likely to fall by 20% during 2019, with the total meat output in China forecast to slip 8%, thereby offsetting expected increases in meat production in several other major producing countries throughout the world to include the EU, the US, Brazil and Argentina.

In the United States, a rise in beef carcase weights has helped to sustain an overall growth in production during 2019 while in Brazil external demand is encouraging higher beef production. Beef production in Argentina is also forecast to increase during 2019.

Total meat production in the EU is also expected to rise during 2019 albeit at a slower rate than previous forecasts due to the decline in beef production. Increases in all other categories of meat production are also expected in the EU, and especially pork on the back of stronger demand from China.

Meanwhile the world trade in meat and meat products is predicted to rise 6.7% on 2018 levels to reach 36.0m tonnes in 2019, with pork, unsurprisingly, rising the most at 12.2%.

The volume of beef being traded is expected to improve 6%, with poultry up 4.4%. Sheepmeat in contrast is predicted to fall by 1.2% mostly due to supply issues in Oceania.

Looking closer to home, total UK imports for beef including processed and offal, are down a massive 33.5% on the year, to total 22,000 tonnes, mostly as a result of the reduction in available supplies following the protests in Ireland over the low beef price, AHDB has claimed.

Over the past year, total UK beef exports are up 20% in volume but 7% in value as the price has been reduced. The reduction in the beef price has helped increase export levels as it has made UK product more competitive across seas.