FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook 97/01

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International prices for all meat products, except beef, strengthened in 1996. The increases were especially marked for poultry meat, as dynamic import demand, particularly in the CIS and in the Far East, outstripped the expansion in exportable supplies. Pig and sheep meat prices were also substantially above the levels recorded last year, reflecting tight export availabilities. By contrast, international beef prices declined in both the Pacific and Atlantic markets. In the Pacific markets (North and Central America, Oceania and East Asia), they were depressed due to keen competition among exporters from North America and Oceania and consumers’ health scares which restrained Japan's import growth. In the Atlantic market, the price fall mirrored a contraction in global import demand along with the rebuilding of large intervention stocks and the raising of export subsidies in the EC, all associated with the outbreak of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis, in March 1996.

Global meat production and consumption rose by 4 percent in 1996, only one percent less than in the previous year. Although high feed costs tempered their growth, the pig and poultry sub-sectors were the most dynamic among the various meat sub-sectors and, for the first time, poultry overtook bovine meat as the second most important meat after pork in global production and consumption. Average per caput meat consumption rose two percent to 36. 9 kg. While it stagnated around 77 kg per year in the developed countries, it rose by 5 percent to 26 kg in the developing countries, influenced by large increases in the Far East countries. By contrast, high prices tended to discourage consumption in the other developing regions.


1994 1995 1996

( . . . . . U.S.$/ton . . . . . )
Chicken parts 1/ 921 922 954 8/
Fresh, frozen pork 1/ 2 659 2 470 2 371 8/
Frozen beef cuts 2/ 2 420 2 668 . . .
Frozen bovine, deboned meat 3/ 1 510 1 607 7/ . . .
Manufactures cow beef 4/ 2 384 1 947 1 775 9/
Frozen mutton 5/ 1 286 1 347 1 449 9/
Lamb frozen whole carcass 6/ 2 975 2 621 2 626 10/

1/ U.S. export unit value.
2/ Argentine export unit value.
3/ EC export unit value.
4/ Australia, cif prices United States.
5/ Australia cif prices to the United Arab Emirates.
6/ New Zealand, wholesale prices London.
7/ January-Octobre 1995.
8/ January-February 1996.
9/ January-April 1996.
10/ January-March 1996.


1994 1995 1996

( . . . . million tons . . . . )
WORLD TOTAL 199.0 208.2 215.9
Poultry meat 51.2 55.0 58.3
Pig meat 78.5 83.0 86.4
Bovine meat 55.2 55.9 56.5
Sheep meat and goat meat 10.4 10.4 10.7
Other meat 3.7 3.9 4.0

COUNTRIES 98.5 107.9 115.6
Poultry meat 24.1 27.0 29.3
Pig meat 42.3 47.0 50.9
Bovine meat 23.4 24.5 25.6
Sheep meat and goat meat 6.5 7.0 7.4
Other meat 2.2 2.3 2.4

COUNTRIES 100.5 100.3 100.3
Poultry meat 27.1 28.0 28.9
Pig meat 36.2 36.0 35.5
Bovine meat 31.8 31.4 30.9
Sheep meat and goat meat 3.8 3.5 3.4
Other meat 1.6 1.5 1.6

Note: Total computed from unrounded data.

Trade in meat products in 1996 expanded by over 5 percent, on account of poultry, pig and bovine meat products, while trade in sheep meat contracted. Import demand was especially strong in the CIS and in the Far East. Deliveries to Japan were also greater, although growth was constrained by increased import duties, following the invocation of special safeguard mechanisms under the WTO and consumers’ fears over BSE and the E-coli 0-157 food poisoning outbreak. Exports of meat rose considerably in the United States, Brazil, China and Uruguay. By contrast, those from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand declined. EC sales to third countries were slightly reduced, influenced by the BSE crisis, which deterred foreign demand for beef and restrained supplies of other meat for exports as domestic consumers shifted to non-beef products.

Poultry meat

Global poultry meat production rose by 6 percent in 1996 to more than 58 million tons. As a result, poultry displaced beef as the second most important meat world-wide. Despite much higher feed costs during the first half of the year, most regions recorded positive growth, with the exception of the CIS. Among the major producers, there were large increases in the United States, spurred by favourable returns to producers, and in China, where a double digit growth was recorded again, driven by continued dynamic expansion in domestic demand. The increase in output in the EC, at two percent, was larger than initially anticipated, as producers stepped up production since March to meet the rise in domestic demand. Despite expensive feed prices, Brazil’s poultry output remained stable, as increasing exports offset a contraction in the domestic market. In Mexico, growth was restrained by limited purchasing power of the population and rising costs. A decline was recorded for Japan, reflecting import competition and continued restructuring of the sector. Poultry production in the CIS was again subject to a sharp decline, due to the much increased feed prices, structural problems and growing competition from imports.


1994 1995 1996

( . . . thousand tons . . . )
WORLD 11 503 12 367 13 037
Poultry meat 3 611 4 540 5 029
Pig meat 2 189 2 229 2 305
Bovine meat 4 778 4 693 4 804
Sheep meat and goat meat 679 659 653
Other meat 246 246 246

Note: Total computed from unrounded data.
1/ Includes meat (fresh, chilled, frozen prepared and canned) in carcass weight equivalent; excludes live animals, offals and EC intra-trade.

Trade in poultry meat expanded by 11 percent, which made poultry the leading meat category in international trade. The expansion was spurred by growing purchases by countries in the CIS, especially the Russian Federation where imports were reportedly much cheaper than domestic supplies. China also stepped up imports of low price cuts, while boosting exports of high value products. Shipments to Mexico, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia were also larger. By contrast, purchases by Japan were somewhat reduced by the weakening of the yen vis-à-vis the US dollar and relatively large opening stocks, while those by Poland and Romania were dampened by more difficult market access as a result of the Uruguay Round. Most of the increase in trade in poultry meat was met by the United States, which now accounts for close to 50 percent of the world market, and by Brazil and China. Exports from the EC declined somewhat, as increased internal demand reduced exportable supplies. Sales by Thailand were hampered by rising production costs, lack of growth of the Japanese market and stiffer competition among exporters. Overall, however, the increase in import demand outpaced the availabilities for export, resulting in strengthened international prices.

Pig meat

World pig meat production expanded by 4 percent in 1996 to 86 million tons, with growth concentrated in the developing countries, especially the Far East and Latin America and the Caribbean, while output fell in the developed economies. In China, there was again a large increase in production, supported by rising productivity per animal, but growth slowed down compared with recent years. Output also expanded in the Chinese Province of Taiwan and in the Republic of Korea, as high profitability in 1995 encouraged an expansion of the breeding herds. In the EC, high prices since spring led to a reversal of the negative production trend, resulting in a minor increase in output. By contrast, there was a contraction in Canada, the CIS, Japan, Mexico and the United States, as producers in these countries reacted to rising feed costs by reducing their herds.

Global trade in pig meat products expanded by about 3 percent in 1996. The main factor underlying the rise was the expansion of imports by Japan, which dominates the market as the principal importer, accounting for more than one third of the total volume of trade. The increase in Japan’s purchases reflected large inflows between April and June, the only period when the safeguards measures were not applied, while access to this market was impeded for the rest of the year by the raising of minimum import prices. By contrast increases in production led to falling imports by Poland, while higher international prices and reduced EC export subsidies depressed purchases by CIS countries. Imports by the United States were also smaller. Most of the growth in world exports reflected larger sales from the United States, Brazil and the Republic of Korea, while exports from the EC and the Chinese Province of Taiwan declined. High international feed prices constrained growth in export availabilities and contributed to the strengthening in international pig meat prices in 1996.

Bovine meat

Global bovine meat production rose by one percent in 1996 to 56 million tons. Output grew in Canada and the United States, where herds entered the liquidation phase, after reaching the peak of the cattle cycle. Modest production growth in Africa reflected a recovery in Morocco and substantial increases in Egypt and Nigeria. Output was also larger in Brazil, China, India and the Republic of Korea, boosted by rising demand. By contrast, production dropped in Australia, reflecting a burgeoning trade in live animals and increased retention for herd rebuilding, and in Japan. Although production in the EC was on an upward trend since 1995, the slaughtering and meat liquidation programmes launched to check BSE resulted in a small reduction in overall output. Production continued to contract in the CIS, with herd size and productivity per animal dwindling further. In Mexico, much reduced cattle herds due to the drought in 1995 also resulted in falling output.

Trade in bovine meat recovered in 1996, rising by 2 percent world-wide. The increase was sustained by growing supplies to the Pacific market, especially from the United States and Canada. Sales from Uruguay also rose, following its recognition as a foot-and-mouth disease-free country. By contrast, shipments from Australia and New Zealand were smaller, as falling international prices and a strengthening of currency exchange rates reduced their ability to compete internationally. Exports from the Atlantic market, especially from the EC and Argentina, declined in reaction to depressed import demand following the BSE scare. Nonetheless, Brazil stepped up sales to foreign markets. Growth in global import demand was supported by an expansion of purchases in Japan, although the fear of the E-coli bacteria and higher tariffs on frozen beef under the safeguard mechanism limited the rise. Larger purchases were also made by Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Chile and Mexico. By contrast, imports by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran declined, mainly because of the BSE crisis which resulted in increased import restrictions. Large excess supplies in exporting countries combined with sluggish import demand caused world beef prices to fall in 1996.

Sheep meat

Sheep meat production reached 10.7 million tons in 1996, 3 percent more than in the previous year, mainly reflecting an expansion in China where very high prices continued to encourage investments in that sector. In Africa, output rebounded, sustained by improved pasture conditions since 1995 and growing demand. In the EC, there was a small decline in production. Likewise, output in both Australia and New Zealand fell, reflecting improved weather and market conditions which encouraged restocking.

Trade in sheep meat stagnated at around 655 000 tons. Exports from Australia rose modestly, as a result of larger shipments of lamb, while increased production boosted sales from Uruguay. By contrast, exports from New Zealand declined, reflecting short domestic supplies. Imports rose in the EC, following increased preferential access, as well as in the Chinese Province of Taiwan and the United States. By contrast, purchases by Japan and Mexico were smaller. The limited supply available for export combined with stronger demand supported the rise in international prices for lamb and mutton in 1996.

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