In 2014, EU gross production of sheep and goat meat increased by 2.5% and, according to the European Commission’s latest outlook, it will increase again by 2% this year.

Last year even though significant drops were recorded for Spain (-6,600t) and Italy (-10,000t, affected by Blue Tongue), they were more than compensated by production increases in some other countries, especially the United Kingdom (+8,000t) and Romania (+31,200t).

According to the latest Eurostat figures, on farm slaughterings of both sheep and goat in Romania increased drastically by 64% and 67% respectively compared to last year.

The Commission says in 2015, the combination of favourable prices and good forage conditions should keep incentives to production.

Furthermore, it says the implementation of the voluntary coupled support for sheep and goat in many Member States should help maintaining the interest in sheep and goat farming.

It cites the December 2014 livestock survey reveals that the sheep flock in the EU increased by 1.1% compared to 2013, representing almost 1m head extra.

Bigger increases in herd size were reported in the United Kingdom (+ 1m head) and Romania (+270,000 heads), while flocks are decreasing in Spain (-140,000 head), Greece (-100,000 head) and some other smaller producing Member States.

Moreover, the sheep meat production in Italy should be able to recover at least part of its losses from 2013-2014 linked to blue tongue, the Commission says.

Therefore, it says overall EU production in 2015 is expected to improve by close to 2%.

The Commission also says that depending on available supply the level of per capita consumption will slightly increase in 2015 and 2016 (1.9kg/capita).

Irish Supplies

Supplies at sheep export meat plants for the week ending July 4 stood at around 57,000 head which was back about 5% on the corresponding week in 2014.

Cumulative supplies for the year to date are currently running 1% behind on year previous levels standing at 1.18m head.