BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — This summer’s drought has led to a significant drop of total E.U. cereal production, estimated at 8% below the last five-year average. This is just one of the findings of the latest short-term outlook report, published on Oct. 3 by the European Commission.
The report highlights that E.U. total cereal production for 2018 is expected to be at 284.3 million tonnes, a decrease of 5% compared to 2017-18 and of 8% compared to the last five-year average. Wheat harvest has suffered the most from this summer’s dry conditions, leading to a decrease of 9% compared to 2017. The wheat production forecast is set at 129 million tonnes for 2018.
Consequently, E.U. cereal prices have peaked during August reaching levels higher than last year, including €50 per tonne for wheat and €60 per tonne for barley.
The dry and hot climatic conditions also influenced the milk and dairy sector due to the significant reduction in grassland growth and fodder production. The increase in E.U. milk collection is lower than expected, with a forecast of 166.6 million tonnes for 2018, leading to an increase of 0.6% compared to 2017.
As for the meat sector, beef production is growing more than anticipated due to a reduced suckler cow herd in most member states, and a shortage of fodder linked with the drought, bringing forward slaughtering. The net beef production for 2018 is forecasted at 8 million tonnes, 1.6% higher than in 2017.
Poultry production also is growing, expected to reach 14.9 million tonnes in 2018 in comparison with 14.6 million tonnes in 2017. This rise is linked with the recovery from last year’s bird flu, but also a drop in imports from Brazil, which is keeping E.U. prices high. As for pigmeat, ample supply is keeping prices down.
Olive oil production in 2017-18 reached 2.18 million tonnes, 24% higher than in 2016-17 at 1.76 million tonnes. Production is expected to continue rising for 2018-19, forecasted at 2.26 million tonnes.