This Study sets out to go beyond the question of "for or against meat?" by combining a retrospective analysis with a business-as-usual scenario for the French meat sector (pork, poultry and beef) up to 2035. The analysis is based on a threefold perspective: sectoral, by considering the relationships within and between the pork, poultry and beef value chains; geographical, by embracing the domestic, European and global levels; and temporal, by considering the trajectory of French meats as specific to the European scale.

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Key Messages

  • Between 1960 and 2024, meat became an increasingly standardized product, traded on increasingly open markets, making price competitiveness one of the major determinants of supply-demand balances.
  • Against this backdrop, French operators are facing difficulties both on their export markets and, gradually, on the domestic market. The business-as-usual scenario to 2035 would lead to the following results:
    o an increase in the supply-demand imbalance across all sectors, with the coverage rate for all meats falling from 98% in 2020 to 87% in 2035;
    o increased dualization of the geography of production, to the benefit of France’s Grand Ouest region;
    o very strong erosion of small and medium-sized structures, both on farms and in the agri-food industry: 31% of farms and 20% of slaughtering and meat-cutting plants disappear, resulting in job losses of 30% on farms and 14% in the agri-food industry;
    o overall environmental impact: while national greenhouse gas emissions are falling, they are stable if imported emissions are taken into account. Overall, soya imports and nitrogen surpluses remain high in the Western part of France, despite the efficiency gains envisaged. The loss of grassland associated with the decline in the number of ruminants has a negative impact on biodiversity and landscapes, as well as reducing CO2 storage and increasing water pollution.
  • Discussing this business-as-usual scenario, which is undesirable in many respects, should serve to depolarize the debate and reframe the issues at stake. With this in mind, it is essential to analyze the risks and the distribution of winners and losers in order to explore other possible futures.
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