European food production is on the way back up in the medium term thanks largely to the Agenda 2000 reform package aimed at improving competitiveness, says a report drawn up by the European Commission for the period to 2007.

The forecasts assume that all WTO farm reform commitments are implemented and that there is an improvement in the Euro exchange rate but make no allowance for further outbreaks of BSE or other diseases.

For cereals the Brussels experts say that with a recovery in world cereal prices EU competitiveness will improve "and set the stage for a sustained development in EU cereal exports over the next seven years."

Beef production is expected to increase a little. "It is expected that world market prices for beef will strengthen over the medium term thus the gap between EU and world market prices is likely to narrow." For pig meat, consumption is "positive" though not so much as for poultry where "very competitive prices with respect to other meats and strong consumer preference should continue to play in its favour."

EU milk production will rise steadily though rising yields will mean a reduction in the diary herd. The outlook for cheese "is in general positive but with a slowdown in the growth rate." Butter consumption on a per capita basis is set to fall to 4.36 kg from the present 4.63 kg by the year 2007. Full report at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg06/publi/caprep/prospects2000/index_en.htm

By Alan Osborn, just-food.com correspondent