The Livestock and Meat Sectors of the 10 New Member States

by 5m Editor
29 October 2004, at 12:00am

EU - The accession of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia to the EU on 1 May 2004 was the latest stage in a process of economic unification and enlargement in Europe, dating back more than 50 years. Enlargement has increased the number of member countries by two thirds to 25 and has introduced an extra 75 million people.

The 10 new member states will have a significant impact on EU agriculture. The number of farmers in the EU will rise to approximately 11 million, an increase of over 50 per cent on the EU-15 level. The utilised agricultural area will increase by 38 million hectares to 168 million hectares, whilst agricultural production is likely to increase by 10-20 per cent for most commodities. However, a characteristic of many of the new member states is that their farm structure is fragmented with many small farms dispersed over a wide area, causing numerous difficulties.

This new A4 150 page publication from MLC Economics considers the agricultural sectors in the 10 new member states, with particular reference to the livestock and meat sector. It identifies key trends in livestock numbers and meat production within these countries and attempts to identify markets where opportunities for trade in meat and livestock may arise now and in the future. It also attempts to assess the benefits of EU membership for these countries as far as agriculture is concerned.

  • The livestock sectors in most of the new member states are relatively small compared with the EU-15, with the exception of the pig sector.

  • The new member states' cattle herd makes up just 11 per cent of the EU-25 total and the sheep flock is negligible.

  • Pig numbers in the 10 new member states account for 20 per cent of the EU-25 total pig herd, with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic having the largest pig herds.

  • Poland is now the third largest pig meat producer in the EU, although it is likely to experience setbacks in the short term as the industry is in need of significant restructuring.

  • Pig meat production in the new member states accounts for approximately 16 per cent of EU-25 production, suggesting lower productivity than in the existing countries of the EU.

  • Poultry meat production is a growing industry in many of the new member states and consumption has also soared in recent years. Poultry production in the new member states accounts for 17 per cent of EU-25 output. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are again the main producers.

Lower per capita GDP inevitably means that consumer purchasing power in the new member states is below that of the EU-15. Population is at best stable and could even decline further. However, if accession causes an acceleration of economic growth and thus as anticipated raises consumer spending, it is assumed that meat demand will increase in the longer term.

As the new member states have entered a more competitive environment it is likely that they will emerge more as major importers than exporters, at least in the short to medium term, as they attempt to become integrated and struggle to restructure their production facilities. Possible exceptions to this may be poultry meat in the main producing countries and the Polish live cattle and beef trade which is already well established.

There were already benefits for the 10 countries prior to accession, with increased EU funding being provided. This will continue as CAP support is gradually aligned with that of the EU-15. On the whole the new member states consider that membership of the EU will bring overall benefits to the agricultural sector. There should be increased trading opportunities in the longer term and increased support from the EU should help to speed up the modernisation of the sector.

Source: Meat and Livestock Commission - 29th October 2004

5m Editor