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World Meat Demand Growing

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Global demand for livestock products is set for strong growth from now to 2050 as population increases and substantial investments in the sector are needed to boost output, the United Nations’ food agency said.

The livestock sector, which contributes 40 per cent of the global value of farming output and has been rapidly growing, is set to expand driven by demand in developing countries as people get wealthier and move to cities, the Food and Agriculture Organization said on Feb. 18.

Global annual meat output is expected to rise to 463 million tonnes by 2050 from 228 million tonnes now, FAO said in its key report on the State of Food and Agriculture which reviews the livestock sector for the first time since 1982.

The cattle population is estimated to grow to 2.6 billion from 1.5 billion and that of goats and sheep to 2.7 billion from 1.7 billion, the Rome-based FAO said.

That in turn would boost demand for coarse grains for animal feed by 553 million tonnes over the period, which would account for about a half of total demand increase, it said.

Massive investments and robust governance are needed for livestock output to meet growing demand and ensure food security, environmental sustainability and human health, the agency said.

“The rapid transition of the livestock sector has been taking place in an institutional void… The issue of governance is central,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in foreword to the report.


The livestock sector both contributes to and suffers from climate change and should be developed in an environmentally friendly way, otherwise it would increase pressure on the use of land, water, air and on biodiversity, FAO said.

Livestock is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and the world’s largest user of land resources with grazing land and crop land used for feed production accounting for almost 80 per cent of all agricultural land, it said.

Some countries have made progress in reducing pollution and deforestation linked to livestock production, but many more need to adopt appropriate policies and market-based mechanisms, such as taxes and fees for natural-resource use or payments for environmental services, the agency said.

The livestock sector, which provides income, food, fuel, building material and fertilizer, should play an important role in poverty reduction in developing countries and in boosting global food security, it said.

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