Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Animal protein production will keep growing in 2024, but at a slower pace, as margins remain tight. The fact that animal protein companies continue to grow production and deliver on customer expectations amid such challenging market conditions is a testament to their resilience and flexibility.

Despite a cost-of-living crisis putting pressure on consumer finances, there continues to be demand for animal protein, and companies have been able to overcome challenges, from high costs to regulatory uncertainty and disease, to capitalize on it.

Global Summary

Some market conditions should improve in 2024 as input costs ease and as some consumers become more used to the uncertainties around them. However, other changes in market conditions are structural in nature rather than cyclical and so will add ongoing costs and changes – creating some opportunities and some risks.

“For companies to sustain the success of the past few years, it’s essential that they adapt to the structural changes in the market. Instead of simply riding out the storm, animal protein businesses need to take stock of their strengths and prepare to transition their supply chains to operating in an environment with high costs and tight margins. Companies should double down on improving their productivity, review their existing portfolios, strengthen supply chain partnerships, increase investment in new product development, and adjust their pricing strategies to navigate the challenges of the coming year,” says Justin Sherrard, global strategist, animal protein.

Although it is slowing, production growth will still be relatively robust in Brazil, will marginally increase in China and Oceania, and will actually accelerate in Southeast Asia, while contracting in other markets. While beef, pork, and wild catch seafood are down, poultry and aquaculture show the strongest growth across the species.

The following are key points from the outlook for animal protein in 2024:

North America

Beef production in the US continues to contract with the cycle, overshadowing changes in other species. Poultry will benefit from consumer preferences, while pork still needs to rebalance. The outlook for Mexico is slightly more positive.

Europe

There are ongoing production pressures for all species, given disease risks, market- and regulatory-driven production system changes, and lower exports. Poultry consumption is set to grow, while pork and beef will decline.

China

Slow consumption will continue to pressure the animal protein system in 2024. Poultry is best placed, with steady growth in production and consumption. Pork and beef markets will remain under most pressure, as the market is well supplied, at least in 1H 2024.

Brazil

Production is set to grow for all species, supported by export opportunities. Pork will grow fastest, followed by poultry. Disease remains a downside risk, especially for poultry.

Southeast Asia

The recovering economic situation and easing of disease pressures should support production growth in 2024. Pork leads growth, although is subject to ongoing ASF pressure, followed by poultry. Beef will only see minor change from 2023.

Australia & New Zealand

The rebuilding of Australia’s beef herd means production and exports will grow in 2024. New Zealand’s production is expected to slow slightly for beef and expand slightly for sheep meat.

Salmon

2024 will be an inflection point for supply. Prices will soften mildly but will remain at elevated levels, continuing the period of high margins.

Shrimp

2024 remains full of uncertainty. Shrimp faces a difficult oversupply situation, which can only be resolved by lower supply or higher demand.

Alternative Protein

Consolidation of products and companies is underway and will continue in 2024.

Aquafeed

Potential minibans may affect the pace of fishing. El Niño is likely to persist through 1H 2024, and price normalization of fish meal depends on catch rates.

Feed and Forage

Feed price relief will continue into 2024. Falling costs are helping to restore margins, but outside factors continue to add uncertainty.

For more information, visit research.rabobank.com.