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European Sheep Meat Output to Stabilise

22 April 2013

EU - The latest forecasts from the European working sheep meat group suggests that most of the expected increase in European sheep meat output for 2013 has already occurred, according to Peter Duggan from the Strategic Information Services of Bord Bia - Irish Food Board.

The anticipated levelling off in output is expected to underpin trade as the year progresses.

For 2013, sheep meat output in the EU-27 region is expected to increase slightly to 765,000 tonnes.

Most of the increase in output forecast to take place in Ireland and the UK.

The strong start to the year evident in both markets, which reflects a larger carryover from 2012, is expected to account for the majority of the rise for the year.

Elsewhere in Europe, the on-going trend of lower output in the second largest producer, Spain, will continue during 2013, with production expected to fall by three per cent to 125,000 tonnes.

A further four per cent drop is anticipated for 2014 reflecting the impact of a severe drought in 2012 which affected the number of ewes being retained for breeding.

In France, the main change forecast for the market in 2013 is a five per cent recovery in sheep meat available for consumption mainly due to increased availability of UK and Irish lamb as domestic production remains static at 109,000 tonnes.

Similar to the Spanish picture, higher production costs are expected to influence the retention of breeding ewe, which will impact negatively on future output.

Lower breeding ewe numbers are also evident in Eastern Europe with the Bulgarian sheep flock in 2013 expected to be 26 per cent lower than 2011 levels as some restructuring within the sheep sector takes place.

One noticeable increase in ewe numbers for 2014 though is expected in the UK, with numbers expected to be one per cent higher at 14.54 million head.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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