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EU agricultural outlook 2019-30:

Societal demands driving food market developments, combining affordability, sustainability and convenience

Consumers and citizens’ expectations will continue shaping food market developments, touching upon health, animal welfare, climate change and environmental concerns as well as convenience and affordability. For instance, in 2019, the most important factors for EU consumers when buying food includes cost, food safety, ethics and beliefs.

These concerns will be an opportunity for the further development of alternative production systems, such as local, organic, GM-free or other certified products, being increasingly in demand. However, as highlighted by the report, consumers’ expectations can be conflicting. Busy lifestyles favour an increase of ready meals, snacks and on-the-go food, which are not always compatible with the factors described above.

According to the report, global consumption of food per capita is increasing as well as self-sufficiency in certain parts of the world. This will have an impact on global trade and provide opportunities for some EU agri-food markets while creating a surge in competition for others. For example, the report projects a growth in global demand for cereals, leading to an increase of EU wheat production, despite increased competition from the Black Sea.

Total agricultural land is expected to decline in the EU over the outlook period, to reach 178.3 million ha in 2030. By contrast, the land used for protein crops, fodder and oilseeds is expected to increase by respectively 46%, 2% and 1% compared to 2020.

This year, the EU agricultural outlook report provides a scenario on the impact of a protein shift in the EU diet over the next ten years. Assuming a significant increase of alternative plant-based diets, it looks at the impact on the meat and dairy markets, the crop markets and the environment.

Concerning the crop markets, increasing demand for human consumption could only partially compensate for the lower feed demand, resulting in a reduction of land use. The rise in soya bean demand for human consumption could be sourced from an increased EU production, projected to grow by 5% by 2030. Finally, this shift could have potential benefits for the climate and the environment. For instance, the carbon footprint of the EU agricultural sector would be reduced by 6%.

Moreover, the report also includes projections for environmental and climate aspects. For the first time, it includes indicators that take into account greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the whole food system (farm and food chain). It also analyses the carbon, nitrogen, water and land footprints. Higher crop yields and production could increase nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, due to manure application on fields. Bearing in mind that environmental analysis models do not account for on-going and expected changes in farm practices, overall agricultural GHG emissions are projected to remain at a comparable level by 2030. Results of food system emissions, including at farm and post-farm level emissions, show that the EU has a lower food system footprint than the world average for most products.

The EU agricultural outlook report for 2019-30 contains all relevant market data, accompanied by an explanation of assumptions, and a description of the macroeconomic environment. The projections and scenarios described in the report will be discussed at the annual EU agricultural conference, taking place in Brussels on 10-11 December 2019.

Download the report here

Source: European Commission

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