Meat consumption is projected to leap by 73 per cent over the next four decades a report, World Livestock 2011, published by the UN’s FAO (Food & Agriculture Organisation) has claimed.
Growth in the global consumption of animal protein is not new of course - it has mushroomed over the last 40 years - but the difference now, says the report, is that this cannot be met simply by increasing livestock numbers.
“The resources for doing so (increasing livestock numbers) have become scarcer and more expensive so there is a major push towards intensification and increasing productivity,” said Henning Steinfeld - coordinator of FAO’s livestock, environment and development initiative (LEAD). “The capacity of extensive systems is limited because whatever there is in terms of pasture and crop residues is already being used.”
Proposed routes to increased productivity include: the shift to more intensive store-fed systems; greater use of feeds such as grain, oilseeds and soya beans; improved genetics; advances in animal health and welfare; and in particular a shift in species emphasis from ruminants to poultry, which are more efficient feed convertors.
The report’s headline region of greatest concern is Africa, where population is forecast to double and animal protein consumption to quadruple by 2050.
“The regional focus is shifting,” said Steinfeld. “In the 1980s and 90s the focus was mostly on China, but the role China played then will be taken over by Africa.”
Significant private and public capital investment and a supporting policy and regulatory framework will be required to meet these future demands.
“A domestic feed base needs to be developed because in many countries it is simply not there; production is not sufficient for human consumption let alone feeding animals,” said Steinfeld. “The issue is how to create vibrant rural areas where you have the support industries starting from fertiliser to storage facilities, to roads, to a market infrastructure, which then ultimately also has the capacity to provide feed for animals.”