Supply balance sheets for meat

Belgians tend to eat more poultry meat

Agriculture & fishery
Belgians tend to eat more poultry meat

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, has drawn up a supply balance for the main animal species for the years 2010 to 2019.

In 2019, the overall net production decreased by more than 3.7 % compared to 2018. This overall net production is the lowest recorded since 2010.

This decrease in net production affects most animal species (-4.9 % for bovine animals, -3.2 % for pigs, -3.1 % for sheep and goats, -7.4 % for horses, -4.6 % for poultry) and is related to the decrease in slaughters. This decrease in net production is offset by a decrease in exports.

Meat exports have declined in 2019 compared to 2019 for all animal species (-6.7 %): -7.2 % for bovine animals, -3.8 % for pigs, -8.4 % for sheep, -14.6 % for horses, -8.4 % for poultry and -28.8 % for other animal species.

The apparent consumption of meat per year and per capita seems to have stabilised at 75.2 kg of carcass weight equivalent in 2018 and 2019. One should keep in mind that this apparent consumption established per supply balance corresponds to the meat quantity made available on the domestic market for a year and per capita. It is expressed in kg of carcass weight equivalent.

If the overall consumption remained stable between 2018 and 2019, the same is not true for the various animal species. We can see the following trends: -3.0 % for bovine meat, -0.8 % for pigmeat, -6.5 % for sheepmeat and goatmeat, -20.9 % for horsemeat and -9.1 % for offals. The decrease in consumption of these meats is offset by an increase in the consumption of poultry meat (+6.0 %) and other animal species (+9.2 %).

So, if pork remains the most consumed meat in Belgium in 2019 (51.0 %), poultry, with 19.4 %, tends to equal or even exceed bovine meat (19.0 %).


Evolution of apparent meat consumption in carcass weight in Belgium (2010 - 2019)

Apparent consumption (kg per capita) 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Beef and veal 18.3 16.4 15.8 15.4 15.5 15.4 14.7 14.3 14.7 14.3
Pork 39.6 44.2 42.4 42.1 42.3 40.7 38.1 38.7 38.6 38.3
Sheepmeat and goatmeat 1.5 1.7 1.2 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.4 1.3
Horsemeat 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.7 0.5
Poultry 15.9 12.4 11.6 10.8 15.0 13.9 13.5 13.0 13.8 14.6
Other animals 4.2 2.7 2.5 2.5 3.3 4.4 3.4 3.9 3.8 4.1
Edible meat offals 2.1 2.9 2.4 2.9 2.6 2.2 2.1 2.1 2.3 2.1
Total (carcass weight) 82.4 81.1 76.7 75.9 80.8 78.4 73.5 73.6 75.2 75.2


Every year, Statbel draws up a supply balance for the main animal species based on various information sources. This balance establishes the relationships between production, consumption and foreign trade (and stocks) and makes it possible to describe the balance of resources and their use for a given product.

This balance is expressed in tonnes of carcass weight equivalent or cwe using technical conversion factors of average yields that differ from one product to another. For example, the factor applied to bovine animals of more than 300 kg is 56 %. This means that the carcass of these animals will weigh 56 % of their live weights. The use of this unit makes it possible to harmonise and aggregate data on live animals and meats in various forms (preparations, pieces, etc.).

In an effort to improve our products and as a result of the use of new or updated data sources, the supply balance sheets for meat have been entirely reviewed since 2012.

The net production has also been corrected for poultry in 2010 and 2011 in order to ensure comparability with the revision of balance sheets since 2012.

In our previous publications, this net production for poultry was estimated based on incubation data from the Flemish Region, breeding characteristics (production age, production duration, age at slaughter) for each species, taking into account a loss rate and an average weight at slaughter. Today, this production is calculated directly from the slaughter data of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC).

The statistics on slaughterings, used for the calculation of the net production, being produced since 2010 based on data from the FASFC (as a replacement for survey data) and discontinuities having been observed in the results of these statistics before and after 2010 for various species, it has been decided to no longer publish the balance sheets prior to 2010.

For all these reasons, the supply balance sheets for meat presented in this publication are not comparable to those published in the past.

The apparent consumption calculated in these balance sheets actually corresponds to the meat resources (net production + meat imports) from which we deduct meat exports. It therefore corresponds more to making meat available on the domestic market than to a final consumption of meat.

This apparent consumption may be overestimated for some categories (such as offals) due to the lack of information on the proportion of such meat used in animal feed.

The apparent consumption expressed in kg of marketable meat per year and per capita is given as an indication using average conversion factors from carcass to retail weights. These factors vary according to the animal species and within the same species according to various characteristics related to the animal itself (age at slaughter, sex, breed, carcass conformation, etc.) but also to the cutting techniques used. The main following factors have been used: 0.70 for bovine animals, 0.78 for pigs, 0.88 for sheep, goats, poultry and 0.6 for horses.


Supply balance sheets for meat