We are far from the “beef effect”. The reduction in the number of cows in France is leading to a “shortage” of French beef and an increase in imports, the Federation of Livestock Breeders (FNB) warned on Wednesday. “We have a feeling that the situation is getting out of control,” FNB President Bruno Dufayer even said at a press conference. This specialized federation of the majority union FNSEA brings together producers of suckling cows, that is, raised for meat.
Amid unreplaced retirements, work interruptions and climate hazards, France, Europe’s leading beef producer, is declining: -11% in six years. France has lost 837,000 cows (dairy and suckling) since 2016, including 494,000 suckling cows, according to FNB, citing data from the French Institute for Livestock (Idele).
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
This “decapitalization”, according to the term used in the profession, leads to a “shortage of French beef”, although consumption remains stable, Bruno Dufayer emphasized.
The result: Producers who slaughter fewer French cows import meat, especially from Poland, to run their processing plants and supply the national market. Beef imports increased by 15.3% year-on-year in September 2022, according to a note from FranceAgriMer. A quarter of the beef consumed in France is imported, down from less than 20% a few years earlier.
“Sheep faced this in the 1980s,” said Mr Dufayer, recalling that more than half of the lamb consumed in France is now imported. According to the breeder from Cantal, producers are only beginning to worry about the lack of raw materials, since slaughterhouses have so far been mainly supplied by breeders who want to part with their animals.
“From now on, the security of every company’s supply is at stake,” confirmed Emmanuel Bernard, Vice President of FNB and President of the Cattle Section of inter-professional meat company Interbev. it took a year to offer them contracts. They will have the merit of “providing producers’ income and supplies” to the slaughterhouses. “We will not change this trend, but we must try to stop” the decline in livestock, the breeder said.