A projection of agricultural market developments up to 2008 made by farming experts in the European Commission has made clear that poultry is still the meat of the future, followed some way behind by pigmeat.

Both meats, currently benefiting from the crises in the beef sector, have won a strong public following and remain competitively priced, said the report "Prospects for agricultural markets 2001-2008."

The report said that poultry production should rise by 3.4% next year and remain "positive" for the next seven years. Per capital consumption is predicted to rise from 21.4kg in 2000 to 24.8kg by 2008.

Pigmeat is expected to grow by 2.4% this year and again in 2002 but demand will slacken in the medium term.

The Brussels experts made no price predictions but emphasised the importance of the Euro/US Dollar exchange rate, especially in the cereals sector. The outlook here is "rather favourable," thanks largely to reforms introduced as part of the Agenda 2000 package.

"The stage is set for a sustained improvement in EU cereal exports over the next seven years," said the report.

Elsewhere, milk consumption is still falling slightly. Cheese enjoyed a "positive" outlook with per capita consumption rising by 0.8% annually to 2008 though butter consumption is declining by the same amount.

To read the full report, click here.

By Alan Osborn, just-food.com correspondent