EU feed trade body Fefac expects compound feed manufacture across the 27 member states in full year 2020 to fall by 3% to 6% from 2019 levels, due to Covid-19 disruption on top of “normal” market and animal disease factors. But the ongoing uncertainty makes it difficult to forecast with confidence.

By species sector, the poultry feed demand has been affected most by Covid-19 lockdown measures, Fefac expects a 5.2% fall in 2020 EU-27 poultry feed production – the first reverse for over a decade – with some EU countries seeing a 10% drop. As well as the pandemic, the poultry market is affected by EU imports of poultry products from third countries, causing oversupply; plus new outbreaks of avian influenza in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Ireland.

Pig feed in the EU-27 is expected to decrease by 2.3 % in 2020 in line with the trend of recent years. African Swine Fever is present in Eastern member states such as Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, but ASF-free countries can still take advantage of high export demand for pigmeat from Asia, left short by the ravages of ASF there.

Cattle feed output has been especially affected by the closure of the catering and food service sector due to Covid-19 and an associated fall in demand for beef, veal and dairy products. Farmers have reacted by reducing concentrate feeding to cut their milk output. This is on top of the stricter environmental regulations being introduced in some countries, especially Holland, to reduce emissions. Fefac expects EU-27 cattle feed production to fall by 4.1% in 2020, despite the dry spring in Europe which will reduce forage availability.

Fefac’s final estimate of 2019 EU-28 feed production is 163.3 million tonnes, 0.9% lower than for 2018. Cattle feed output fell by 2.2% from 2018, which was lifted by the very dry 2018 and reduced forage production. Pig feed volumes dropped by 0.5%, largely due to ASF. Poultry feed increased marginally by 0.1%, with feed efficiency gains and increased EU poultry meat imports slowing demand.

• FEFAC’s 65th General Assembly this month, held by videoconference, elected Asbjørn Børsting as its president for the 2020 – 2023. He succeeds Nick Major of ForFarmers, who remains on the Fefac board.

Mr Børsting is director of DAKOFO, the Danish Grain and Feed association and of Variety Denmark. He also chairs the Danish Bio-Economy Panel.