How People Consume Meat Around The World [CHARTS]

German public policy group Heinrich Böell Foundation and Friends of the Earth have just released their annual publication Meat Atlas, which illustrates food trends around the world.

The booklet informs consumers about meat production in different countries based on data from world organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO), and Gallup data, just to name a few.

“In the rich North we already have high meat consumption. Now the poor South is catching up,” Barbara Unmuessig, the foundation’s president, told BBC. “Catering for this growing demand means industrialized farming methods: Animals are pumped full of growth hormones. This has terrible consequences on how animals are treated and on the health of consumers.”

The following charts (republished under a Creative Commons licence) give a sense of how people consume meat around the world.

This chart shows meat production around the world. Though the USA and Europe still produce plenty of meat products, the prices of feed, energy, and land are all becoming more expensive and the cost of producing industrial livestock is rising. Pigs and poultry are still doing well in the market since both species don’t necessarily need a lot of feed and can be kept in confined spaces.

Meat Atlas 1, Heinrich Böell Foundation

Meat companies are growing thanks to mergers and acquisitions, and are expanding across countries and animal species. Today, there are 10 major meat producers around the globe, four of which are based in the U.S.: Cargill ($33 billion in food sales a year), Tyson ($33 billion in food sales a year), Smithfield ($13 billion in food sales a year), and Hormel Foods ($8 billion in food sales a year).

Meat Atlas 2, Heinrich Böell Foundation

The global demand for meat is growing, particularly in China and India, which could see an 80% boom in the meat sector by 2022 due to a new (and growing) middle class. Africans are also starting to eat more meat, though the supply and demand are still not quite what they are in other parts of the world.

Meat Atlas 4, Heinrich Böell Foundation

Meat production and consumption in the industrialized world have radically increased since 1950. Overall, however, meat consumption has stagnated. In the U.S. there has been a 9% drop in consumption from 2007 to 2012 thanks to trendy low-meat diets and growing concern from customers over where meat comes from. It could also be due to recent meat scandals, including horse meat marketed as beef.

Meat Atlas 3, Heinrich Böell Foundation

Poultry is the fastest growing segment of globalized livestock. By 2020, China’s poultry production will increase 37%, Brazil’s will increase 28%, and U.S. production will increase 16% due to growing consumption around the globe. In India, poultry consumption is expected to rise nearly tenfold to just below 10 million tons a year in 2050.

Meat Atlas 5, Heinrich Böell Foundation

One reason poultry is so popular is the price. Producing poultry is cheaper than other types of meat because chickens are more efficient to feed than other livestock ,and there are few religious or cultural limitations to eating chicken. In 2011, an estimated 58 TRILLION chickens were slaughtered around the world — that’s compared to roughly 1.4 trillion pigs and 300 million cattle.

Meat Atlas 6, Heinrich Böell Foundation

Only a small percentage of the population in the U.S. and Europe describe themselves as vegetarians or vegans. It’s much more popular in India since Buddhism and Hinduism share beliefs about rebirth and the importance nonviolence that leads people to reject the consumption of meat due to the slaughter of animals.

Meat Atlas 7, Heinrich Böell Foundation

And even though it’s not as popular as meat consumption, people are becoming more interested in vegetarianism and veganism as lifestyle choices.

Meat Atlas 8, Heinrich Böell Foundation

There could also be a shift in the future from animal protein to protein from aquatic plants or insects, as a recent United Nations report suggests. Insects are particularly efficient and high in protein.

Meat Atlas 9, Heinrich Böell Foundation