Supply balance sheets for meat

Decrease in the consumption of red meat

Agriculture & fishery
Decrease in the consumption of red meat

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, has drawn up a supply balance for the main animal species for the years 2010 to 2018. This supply balance shows a difference in the evolution of domestic use and usable production. This reveals an intensified trade between Belgium and other countries, with a predominance of outflows. Therefore, the Belgian trade balance is increasingly in surplus for meat (fresh or prepared).

Belgium’s gross indigenous production has increased by almost 7 % on average over the period 2015-2018 compared to the period 2010-2014. Over this period, we notice a decrease of live animal imports (-15.2 % of tonnes of carcass weight equivalent) and an increase of live animal exports (+30.8 % of tonnes of carcass weight equivalent). The usable production has increased by 1.4 %.

In addition to this increase in gross indigenous production, the overall apparent consumption per capita (this apparent consumption is established per supply balance and corresponds to the meat made available on the market) has decreased on average by more than 5.0 % in the last four years compared to the period 2010-2014. Apparent consumption per year and per capita amounts to 75.2 kg of carcass weight equivalent in 2018.

This decrease in apparent consumption affects most types of meat. So, if we compare the average apparent consumption per year and per capita for the period 2010-2014 with that of 2015-2018, we can see the following trends: -9.2 % for bovine meat, -7.4 % for pigmeat, -16.9 % for sheepmeat and goatmeat, -26.3 % for horsemeat and -15.4 % for offals.

The apparent consumption of poultry and other animal species tends to increase: +3.1 % for poultry and +26.5 % for animal species in the category ‘others’ (rabbits, pigeons, buffaloes, game, etc.).

Despite the decrease in consumption, pork remains the most consumed meat in Belgium in 2018 (51.4 %), followed by beef (19.6 %) and poultry (18.3 %).


Evolution of apparent meat consumption in carcass weight in Belgium (2010 - 2018)

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