Meat Production Continues to Rise

Brian Halweil | Aug 20, 2008

In 2007, meat production remained steady at an estimated 275 million tons; in 2008, output is expected to top 280 million  tons.1 (See Figure 1.) Experts predict that by 2050 nearly twice as much meat will be produced as today, for a projected total of more than 465 million tons.2 For more than a decade, the strongest increases in production have been in the developing world—in 1995 more meat and dairy products were produced in developing than in industrial countries for the first time, and this trend has continued ever since.3 In fact, in 2007 at least 60 percent of meat was produced in developing nations.4

Consumption of meat and other animal pro­ducts also continues to grow. Currently nearly 42 kilograms of meat is produced per person worldwide, but meat consumption varies greatly by region and socioeconomic status.5 In the developing world, people eat about 30 kilograms of meat a year.6 But consumers in the industrial world eat more than 80 kilograms per person each year.7 (See Figure 2.)

Rising food prices are pushing consumers to choose cheaper cuts of meat, like chicken. (See Figure 3.) Global poultry output in 2007 was expected to reach 93 million tons, a 4-percent increase from the previous year.8 The United States is the biggest poultry producer, but other major producers, including Argentina, Brazil, China, the Philippines, and Thailand, are all expecting increases in production. India, however, is likely to have lower poultry production because of the spread of the H5N1 avian flu virus and the culling of millions of chickens.9

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