Drought slows global meat production growth

26-10-2012 | |
Drought slows global meat production growth

Global meat production growth has slowed in the last few years with drought and disease being held accountable, new research by Worldwatch Institute states.

Meat production rose to 297 million tonnes in 2011, an increase of 0.8% over 2010 levels, and is projected to reach 302 million tonnes by the end of 2012. By comparison, meat production rose 2.6% in 2010 and has risen 20% since 2001. Record drought in the US Midwest, animal disease outbreaks, and rising prices of livestock feed all contributed to 2011’s lower rise in production.

Also bucking a decades-long trend, meat consumption decreased slightly worldwide in 2011, from 42.5 kg per person in 2010 to 42.3 kg. Since 1995, however, per capita meat consumption has increased 15% overall; in developing countries, it increased 25% during this time, whereas in industrialised countries it increased just 2%. Although the disparity between meat consumption in developing and industrialised countries is shrinking, it remains high: the average person in a developing country ate 32.3 kg of meat in 2011, whereas in industrialised countries people ate 78.9 kg on average.

Pork was the most popular meat in 2011, accounting for 37% of both meat production and consumption, at 109 million tonnes. This was followed closely by poultry meat, with 101 million tons produced. Yet pork production decreased 0.8% from 2010, whereas poultry meat production rose 3%, making it likely that poultry will become the most-produced meat in the next few years.

Widespread and intense drought in China, Russia, the United States, and the Horn of Africa contributed to lower meat production – and higher prices – in 2010 and 2011. The combination of high prices for meat products and outbreaks of new and recurring zoonotic diseases in 2011 curtailed global meat consumption.