BRUSSELS – By 2016, the European Union will become a net importer of poultry as domestic consumption rises more quickly than production, according to a Bloomberg report.

The European Commission said in a study published on its Web site on Dec. 4 EU poultry imports will surpass exports by 155,000 metric tons in 2020. A strong Euro and relatively high prices will hold back poultry shipments outside the 27-nation bloc’s borders, according to the commission – the EU’s executive arm.

The report further indicates that chicken’s low cost is helping to drive consumption of the meat along with its convenience compared to other meat products. EU citizens will eat an average 54.5 lbs. each of poultry meat in 2020, which is up from last year.

In 2020, EU poultry-meat production is forecast to rise to 12.47 million tons from 11.64 million tons in 2010 as consumption increases to 12.71 million tons from 11.58 million tons in 2010, the report revealed.

Consumption of beef, veal and pork by the bloc is also expected to increase this decade as people eat less mutton and goat meat, the report predicts. The EU is predicted to remain a net exporter of pork while increasing inbound beef shipments, the commission concluded.