Analysts at European feed federation FEFAC now estimate that compound feed production in Europe’s EU-27 zone fell by about 4.5% in 2009, to just under 144 million metric tons. Feeds for all farm animal species were affected, most notably those for cattle (down by 8% to about 35 million tons) and for pigs (lower by 6% to 49 million tons). A smaller percentage reduction was registered for poultry feeds, falling by 1% to about 48 million tons.

According to FEFAC, the cattle feed production results reflected a severe contraction in the demand for dairy cow diets, mainly in the final six months of 2009, as the milk sector in Europe continued to undergo a crisis. Other negative influences came from the poor profitability of pig production and from a tendency for grain growers to use their cereals on the farm rather than selling them at a low price. The market also suffered from the economic pressures that persuaded consumers in Europe to switch to less expensive sources of animal protein.

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However, the federation’s experts say 2010 will bring a continued recovery in consumer demand for poultry products, as well as an end to the downward trend in the pig cycle. Current forecasts for the next EU cereals harvest indicate relatively low price levels for new-crop grains, while soybean meal prices are expected to remain stable. The federation forecasts a 2% increase in the European Union’s output of poultry feed this year, accompanied by a stabilizing of pig feed output. But a continuation of difficulties in the dairy sector is predicted to lead to a further 1% fall in cattle feed production.

FEFAC data show that the six European countries producing the most poultry feed in 2009 were France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland. France is still substantially the largest producer, at 8.2 million metric tons, despite a 6% drop in its own poultry feed tonnage last year. French feed industry associations SNIA and Coop de France have reported that the volume of broiler chicken feeds produced in 2009 by French mills decreased by only about 1%, to approximately 3.1 million tons. Bigger feed reductions were seen for turkeys (down 8.7% to less than 1.5 million tons) and for geese (lower by 6.2% to 1.3 million tons). Laying-hen feeds in France actually showed a production increase last year, rising by 0.3% to about 2.12 million tons.