Soaring hot temperatures and extreme lack of rain this summer throughout Europe has caused an estimated eight percent drop in total European Union cereal production.
In its latest short-term outlook report by the European Commission, the EU total cereal production for 2018 is expected to be 284.3 million tonnes, which is a five-percent decline compared to 2017-18 and eight percent lower than the last-five-year average.
The drought conditions hit wheat production the hardest, leading to a decrease of nine percent compared to 2017. The wheat production forecast is set at 129 million tonnes for 2018.
As a result, cereal prices peaked during August, reaching levels higher than last year, with wheat prices increasing by $75 per tonne and barley by $90 per tonne over last year’s prices.
EU sugar production should be lower than last year’s record levels, forecasted at 19.2 million tonnes for 2018-19, compared with 21.1 million tonnes for 2017-18. However, sugar prices remain low because of significant sugar surpluses worldwide.
The dairy sector was also affected due to the significant reduction in grassland growth and feed production. The increase in EU milk collection is lower than expected, with a forecast of 166.6 million tonnes for 2018, leading to an increase of 0.6 percent compared to 2017.
As for the meat sector, beef production is growing more than anticipated due to a shortage of feed, which has sent more animals to slaughter. The net beef production for 2018 is forecast at eight million tonnes, which is 1.6 percent higher than in 2017.
Poultry production is also 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 EU prices high.
As for pork, ample supply is keeping prices down.