Where Will the Meat Come from in 2030

CANADA - The world’s population is increasing by 78 million each year, and by 2030, more than eight billion people will inhabit the Earth.
calendar icon 27 February 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

According to the United Nations, global agricultural capacity will be straining to feed this many inhabitants – and the problem will worsen as the world’s population reaches 10 billion by 2035.

A recent publication by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association claims there are three issues that need to be addressed in conjunction with this expected increase in global population levels: protein consumption, the global supply of food and food safety. The consumption of protein is increasing rapidly in the developing world and within 10 years, the world will add one billion consumers of meat and meat products in countries such as China and India as well as other “emerging” nations.

Annual gains in the global food supply have recently declined from three to one percent. Increasing the global supply of food through the expansion of the cultivated land base may not be feasible – and could create environmental havoc in many regions of the world. A new “green revolution” is unlikely to solve the world’s food supply problems because additional production gains through chemistry or mechanization are forecast to be relatively small.

Food safety is an important international concern and most of the world has focussed its attention on livestock. The World Bank predicts that demand for animal products will double within 20 years – and developing countries will supply most of what is required. However, only about 20 percent of the countries of the world have the ability to respond effectively to health crises caused by animal disease. The Food and Agriculture Organization says that in a world without the capacity to deal with diseases in livestock destined for human consumption, a major crisis could occur within 10 years. With these three scenarios unfolding, what are the implications for Canada, a country that provides the world with over $24 billion in agricultural and food products each year?

Wheat, barley and livestock make up a large proportion of Canada’s agricultural and food exports. With its sizable land base and its high level of agricultural productivity, Canada has a competitive advantage over most other nations that produce and export agricultural products. Canadian producers, however, depend on substantial investments in research and development (R&D) in order to stay competitive. When the Canadian public invests in agricultural R&D, it receives a good return on its investment. Proof of that benefit is reflected in the growth in agricultural productivity over the last 40 years – with the agricultural sector outperforming both the manufacturing and business sectors of the Canadian economy.

Recently, however, Canadian livestock producers have found it more and more difficult to sustain a competitive advantage over global competitors. One issue is the rapid increase in the cost of feed grains due to the recent development of the US and Canadian bioethanol sector. Senior research analysts at the George Morris Centre have warned that the Canadian plan for the development of bioethanol runs contrary to other agricultural initiatives and will not be positive for agriculture.

Canada has positioned itself as a meat exporting country. Converting Canadian feed grains into bioethanol instead of into meat and livestock makes little economic sense – especially when an increasing prosperous world can afford to pay higher prices for meat protein. In addition, this strategic adjustment is taking place at a time when Canada’s livestock producers are least able to adapt to change.

There is an opportunity for Canadian livestock producers to take advantage of the growth in global population levels, a tightening global food supply and an increasing demand for animal protein from emerging nations. In addition, Canadian livestock producers can meet these needs within a production system with high standards for food safety and the ability to respond quickly and effectively to livestock health emergencies.

Because this project is driven by developments in the manufacture of bioethanol from small grains, Strategic Vision Consulting Ltd. (SVC) has focussed on the development of wheat and barley as feed grains in western Canada. Forage issues, on the other hand, have a national focus.

Further Reading

More information - You can view the Canadian Cattlemen's Association's full report on by Feed grains and forage research and commercialization in Canada by clicking here.

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