Peak meat, but not yet

While people all over the world are eating more chicken, we may be approaching a peak in global meat consumption.

Some fascinating information and conclusions are reached in a report by a group of Australian researchers and published in MDPI, a publisher of peer-reviewed, open access journals. This led to an informative article in Poultry World.

The study analysed 35 countries to determine where consumption of all major meats increased or decreased between 2000 and 2019.
Poultry was found to be the main driver of increasing meat consumption. Poultry consumption doubled or more than doubled in a number of countries in the decade reviewed – South Africa’s poultry consumption rose by 98.8% over that period, from 17.2 kg per person in 2000 to 34.2kg in 2019.

However the researchers also found that a number of factors are leading to lower meat consumption levels, particularly in richer countries. While global meat consumption has quadrupled since 1961, the researchers said consumption was being changed by growing prosperity, disease outbreaks, natural disasters and consumer preferences, including vegetarianism and the availability of plant-based or cultivated meat.

Poultry World noted that, while meat consumption is positively associated with income, an earlier study of 120 countries had identified that at a certain level of income (around USD40 000 GDP per capita) total meat consumption decreases with income.

The authors of the study said they searched for “peak meat” – the point at which global meat consumption will decline. It’s not there, at least not yet. Global meat consumption rose between 2000 and 2019.

However, the increase was driven by poultry, where consumption increased substantially while the researchers said pork and beef consumption generally declined. Poultry consumption overtook beef and pork in 1980, and has continued to rise. In 2019 global poultry consumption per capita was 14.8kg, up from 9.8kg in 2000.