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UN calls for more efficient livestock

World meat consumption will rise 73 per cent by 2050

Milan / Reuters / Livestock farms should use natural resources more efficiently to meet ever-growing demand for meat and dairy products in a way friendly to the environment, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Dec. 14.

Global meat consumption is projected to rise 73 per cent by 2050, while dairy demand is expected to grow by 58 per cent from current levels, driven by growing population and incomes in developing countries, the FAO said in its World Livestock 2011 report.

“It is hard to envisage meeting projected demand by keeping twice as many poultry, 80 per cent more small ruminants, 50 per cent more cattle and 40 per cent more pigs, using the same level of natural resources as currently,” the report said.

Production increases should instead come from improving efficiency of livestock systems in converting natural resources into food and from reducing waste, said the report published on FAO’s website.

The world needs to boost output of cereals by one billion tonnes and produce 200 million extra tonnes of livestock products a year by 2050 to feed a population projected to rise to nine billion, the United Nations estimates.

Large-scale, intensive animal-rearing farms, which will be the main drivers of increasing livestock output, should also reduce pollution generated from waste and greenhouse gases, cut the use of water and grain needed to produce livestock protein and recycle agro-industrial byproducts, the report said.

Livestock output has expanded rapidly in east and southeast Asia and in Latin America, but growth in sub-Saharan Africa has remained slow.

Average consumption of livestock protein in Africa is less than a quarter of that in the Americas, Europe and Oceania and represents just 17 per cent of the recommended consumption level for all proteins, the report said.

By contrast, consumption of livestock protein in the Americas, Europe and Oceania in 2005 was between 78 and 98 per cent of the total protein requirement, suggesting that livestock products are being overconsumed, the FAO said.

Livestock products supply 12.9 per cent of calories consumed worldwide and 20.3 per cent in developed countries, while their contribution to protein consumption is estimated at 27.9 per cent worldwide and 47.8 per cent in developed countries, it said.

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