Europe views veal as a luxury product, especially milk-fed veal. It is produced in a number of key European countries and exported on a large scale. Generally, about 60% of production ends up in supermarkets and approximately 10% in traditional butcher’s shops. However, the popularity of (new) supermarkets and the closure of so many butcher’s shops causes noticeable fluctuations in these two figures. The hotel and catering industry also uses 20% of the veal produced in Europe as well as another 10% served in hospitals, old-people’s homes and schools.
Consumption is clearly rising, and in countries like the Netherlands, this is primarily due to restaurateurs daring to add this sensitive product on their menus. French consu- mers lead the way, eating 4.19 kg per person per annum, followed by the Italians at 3.6 kg. In the Netherlands, people eat an average of 1.65 kg, level with most other European countries. In Germany, this is slightly lower at 1.04 kg of veal per person per year, and 335 gram per person per year in Poland.
One reason why the French take the lead is their preference for eating meat that has been produced in France, and a willingness to pay more to get good quality. Most shops in France therefore prefer to stock French produce. Meat that is on special offer tends to have been imported from abroad.
When it comes to production, France and the Netherlands are the largest producers. Their market shares are almost equal at around 30% with Italy coming in third. Italy produces a lot less, at 17%, followed by Belgium (7%) and Germany (5%). Over the last few years, production in France and Italy has started to decline in contrast to a rise in the Netherlands. This increase is due to the introduction of rose veal.
If we compare the production to the consumption in each country, you will notice some remarkable results. Whilst Belgium, France, Germany and Italy have their own national supply of veal, it is not enough to meet demand. In France, production meets 86% of demand; in Italy, 62%, and in Germany, 52%. This results in imports of 40,000 tonnes per year in France and Germany and 80,000 tonnes in Italy. Where does the meat come from? Mainly from the Netherlands. The Netherlands is quite self-sufficient with supply meeting demand at a rate of more than 800%.
The production of veal in Europe is divided as follows (figures from 2010, shown in tonnes):