Summary of our market study

The global cattle breeding market is expected to reach $1157.55 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%. In the period from 2020 to 2025, this represents a 39% increase. Despite a slight structural decline from 1 billion heads of cattle to 982 million in 2020, the market shows signs of rebounding, with predictions for 2022 placing the count back above the one-billion mark. The United States remains the leading beef producer, with 12.6 million metric tons produced in 2021. France, boasting the largest cattle herd in the European Union, experiences a two-speed market with a significant number of small farmers exiting, leading to an increase in medium-sized and large farms dominating livestock production.

The French market is also marked by a decline in meat consumption, although trends show a preference for local and responsible products. With regulations such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) providing subsidies and laws like EGALIM II aiming to consider production costs in pricing, France's position in the international market is notably strong, as it leads the world in livestock exports with 12% of the global share. The market is also grappling with changing consumer attitudes towards animal welfare and environmental concerns, leading to innovations such as mobile slaughterhouses to reduce animal stress. In the backdrop of these dynamics, the market is also facing inflationary pressures with feed costs rising by 23% in 2021, although producer prices have not increased commensurately.

Shifting Trends in the French Cattle Market: A Consumer-led Transformation

In France, a country with deep-rooted agricultural traditions, the cattle market has been experiencing a period of transformative change. The French cattle breeding market, once robust and resolute, has seen challenges due to evolving consumer habits and the impact of ethical concerns highlighted by organizations such as L214. Despite this, France remains the epicenter of European cattle breeding, featuring among the continent's largest cattle herds, with figures hovering around 17 to 18 million heads of cattle, and boasting the second-largest dairy herd estimated between approximately 3 and 4 million.

The market is not homogenous, and operates at varying speeds. Organic livestock meat production is an area where France has taken an early lead, with an output that brushes close to 85,000 tonnes. This is significant when considering the broader context of the global cattle market which is seeing a resurgence in overall cattle numbers, potentially soaring above the one billion mark. On the global stage, France's prowess in the export sector is undeniable. The nation stands tall as the world's premier exporter of live livestock, holding a stable market share of approximately 11-12% over the past decade. Notably, the Iberian country's adoption of strict animal vaccination regulations led to a 5% decline in livestock export values in 2021, posing a question mark on the trade dynamics with Spain.

This backdrop sets the stage for a domestic market grappling with contrasting forces. While overall demand for livestock products retreated somewhat in 2021, with a notable decline in demand from retail channels, specific sectors like prepared meat dishes witnessed a rise, indicating shifting consumer preferences. Yet, the trend of declining meat consumption is unmistakable, marked by a structural erosion driven by leanings toward veganism and flexitarianism. This is pronounced in the younger demographics, who are increasingly distancing themselves from meat consumption.

As for the state of the French livestock farmer, there's a lean towards grouping into cooperatives and an increased presence of medium to large farms, indicative of a sector in consolidation. What is stark is the structural decline in farm numbers, which plummeted from upwards of 215,000 to roughly 157,000 in 2020. Producers are caught in a squeeze, with elevated feed costs up 23% in 2021 and an inflationary trend that has not been completely passed on, with prices rising by only about 4%. Yet, output by French farmers is expected to notch upwards.

Pivotal Forces Shaping the French Cattle Breeding Market

The French cattle breeding industry is characterized by a dynamic interplay of cooperatives, private corporations, and specialized genetic firms that collectively contribute to France's formidable position in the European Union.

  • At the forefront of the cooperative arena is the Agrial group, showcasing an expansive portfolio in livestock production that permeates across various sectors. Its cooperative nature allows for a collective strength, which is pivotal in navigating through the complexities of the cattle breeding market.
  • Another notable cooperative giant is Sodiaal, a dairy-focused consortium. Sodiaal's impressive network of 17,669 farmers grants it a remarkable ability to collect substantial volumes of milk, positioning it as a key player in the dairy domain and contributing significantly to the national milk supply.
  • In the private sector, the LDC group leads the poultry production market, and although poultry is the primary focus, its engagement in cattle breeding activities generates considerable revenue, marking its influence in the market.
  • Further enriching the French cattle breeding landscape are specialized actors like Hendrix Genetics and Grimaud frères. These entities delve into the genetic selection of animals, developing genetically superior livestock with attributes that align with market demands and consumer preferences.

The collective role of these cooperatives and companies is instrumental in upholding France's competitive edge, not just on a domestic level, but also on a European and global scale. Their interdependence and mutual efforts in ensuring quality and sustainability mirror the complexity and depth of the French cattle breeding market, which prides itself on addressing consumer demands for welfare and quality, while simultaneously grappling with economic and regulatory challenges.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Introduction and scope of study

Cattle breeding encompasses all activities involved in the reproduction of bovine breeds for human consumption, particularly in the meat and dairy segments.

As in the rest of the meat and dairy sectors, the French cattle breeding market is experiencing slight difficulties. New consumer habits and the scandals revealed by the L214 association have largely contributed to tarnishing the sector's image.

Yet France is a major breeding ground for cattle, the largest in the European Union. As a result, French operators dominate this market, which is highly regulated at European level, and offer higher value-added products that are more resilient to this downturn in the sector. What's more, intensive livestock farming, with operations involving thousands of cattle, is virtually non-existent in France.

The number of farms has fallen considerably over the past 15 years. Faced with strong deflationary pressures and a structural decline in meat consumption, many small-scale farmers have gone bankrupt, while others have formed producer groups or cooperatives.

As aresult, there has been a marked increase in the number of medium-sized and large farms, which account for almost all French livestock. Farmers generally operate on an individual basis. They may also join cooperatives, which act as producer organizations, responsible for adding value to their members' production. The biggest players, such as Terrena and Agrial, are involved in the entire meat value chain, from breeding to processing.

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Trends and estimates for the global cattle breeding market
  • Distribution of world production by leading cattle breeding countries
  • Trends in the number of cattle worldwide
  • Trends in world beef production
  • Breakdown of world beef production
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Latest news

With ITK, Innoval wants to make data talk to farmers - 27/11/2023
  • Innoval recently acquired ITK, a Hérault-based SME specializing in R&D and artificial intelligence applied to agriculture.
  • Innoval is based in Noyal-sur-Vilaine (Ille-et-Vilaine) and offers services to farmers in the fields of advice, genetics, health protection and reproduction.
  • ITK's digital solutions will be deployed to Innoval's 30,000 member breeders in 26 departments in western France.
  • ITK, founded in 2003, is based in Clapiers (near Montpellier) and also has offices in Rennes and San Francisco.
  • Land O'Lakes, one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the United States, remains a 7% shareholder in ITK.
  • ITK achieved sales of 6.7 million euros in 2022, with 80 employees.
  • Innoval achieved sales of 230 million euros this year, with 1,800 employees.
Sodiaal launches a campaign to support its Candia, Yoplait and Entremont brands - 09/09/2023

Coopérative Sodiaal brings together three major brands: Candia, Yoplait and Entremont. The cooperative brings together 16,000 farmers in 72 départements. The three brands are present in 9 out of 10 households.

Agri-food: Agrial continues to grow after merger with Natura'Pro - 01/06/2023
  • Agrial: first place among French cooperatives
  • Merger with Natura'Pro, agricultural cooperative in the Rhône Valley
  • Agrial: sales of over 7 billion euros by 2022
  • Natura'Pro: sales of 84 million euros in 2022
  • Agrial: 14 agri-food sites in the Alpes Sud-Est region
  • Natura'Pro has stores for agricultural professionals and the general public (under the Gamm Vert banner)
  • Agrial sales doubled in ten years
Yoplait revives thanks to Sodiaal - 04/04/2023
  • Acquisition of Yoplait's European activities by Sodiaal in November 2021.
  • The Yoplait brand was previously owned by General Mills Yoplait generates sales of 650 million euros in Europe, 80% of which in France.
  • Yoplait's 26 franchisees generate total sales of around 1 billion euros.
  • Brand sales up 9.4% by 2022.
  • Tripling of the market share of Yoplait's Icelandic yogurts (skyr), from 10% to 33%.
  • Yoplait sales in France total 510 million euros.
Entremont expands its range of cubed PDO cheeses - 22/03/2023
  • Entremont sales: 900 million euros
  • - Private label share of sales: 47%
  • - Entremont price increase: 25% in one year
  • - New Entremont products in 2027: 25% of sales
  • - Cheese market down 2.8
  • - The company is owned by dairy giant Sodiaal
  • The Sodiaal cooperative has 21 appellations in its cellars, from Roquefort and Saint-Nectaire to Brie de Meaux and Munster
Inflation: milk giant Sodiaal pleads the case for private labels - 07/03/2023
  • Sodiaal, France's leading dairy cooperative (sales of 5.5 billion euros in 2022), is known for its Yoplait, Candia and Entremont brands
  • It also manufactures the private labels of its customers, the major retailers (50% of its production)

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Agrial Coopérative Primeal
Sodiaal Groupe (Coopérative)
Terrena (Coopérative)
Hendrics Genetics France
Antelliq Allflex (Merck Group)
Celia Cooperative Groupe

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