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Table of Contents 1. Executive Summary


2. Abstract


3. Introduction


4. Literature Review


5. Data and Evidence


6. Analysis of Alternative Futures


7. Strategic Implications for Business


8. Our Preferred Future


9. References




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Executive Summary Meat has long been an important part of a regular diet in the United States and other developed countries. Today, most Americans would consider a day without meat both unhealthy and quite unappetizing. However, most of the world still considers meat a delicacy and does not enjoy the luxury of widespread meat availability on an everyday basis. The developing world, including large parts of Asia, Africa, South America, and Western Europe, has survived mainly on a diet of grains and carbohydrates and rarely has access to meat products. With the recent global technological advances leading to higher levels of global GDP per capita and increased urbanization around the world, meat has become much more available to many people in second and third world countries. Furthermore, total world population has increased by over 2 billion people since 1980. As a result, global meat product consumption has rapidly increased at a level of around 3% per year, and total world meat consumption has increased by 450 million metric tons since 1960. Because of the rapid increase in demand, the meat production industry has shifted from a group of many smaller companies to a small number of huge factory farm production centers. These collective factory farms use artificial substances and antibiotics to keep the animals from getting sick and to allow them to grow to abnormal sizes and reach unhealthy weight levels. In addition, these large factory farms cause a great deal of pollution and often dump animal waste and byproducts untreated into local water supplies. Meat production in the 21st century also requires an enormous amount of grain and corn that are grown on land that could be used to produce foodstuffs for human consumption. Today’s meat production techniques overall are quite unsustainable, produce more air pollution than the entire world’s transportation industry, place a substantial strain on the world’s land and water resources, and will cause even more damage to the environment as they expand and deal with increased demand levels. Therefore, with continued increases in world affluence and population growth and increasingly unsustainable and polluting meat production techniques, we ask our central research question: What is the future of global meat demand as it relates to growing world affluence, sustainability, and new production techniques? This question is crucial in that it poses the problem of providing larger and larger quantities of


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meat and also finding new ways of doing so without harming the environment and generating toxic byproducts. As the developing world continues to see increases in GDP per capita, its citizens will continue to hunger for and finally have the financial resources to demand the meat filled diets long enjoyed by the world’s wealthier countries. Consequently, our generation must improve upon existing meat production techniques and also develop new ones to satisfy increasing levels of global meat demand. To forecast this future, we gathered data on our most important drivers of change: global population growth, global meat consumption, global GDP per capita, and urbanization. We then created a linear regression model to analyze how much each affected global meat consumption, and found that GDP per capita and urbanization levels were nearly perfect (99.9%) in predicting meat consumption. Using our linear regression model, we forecasted meat consumption over the next 20 years and found that it should lead to continued increases in levels of global meat demand. This supported our hypothesis that new production techniques must be developed in order to provide enough meat to the world without permanently damaging the environment. Global levels of meat demand are affected by several uncertainties, and we came up with several different plausible futures. Our team came up with three possible sources of disruptive change to the current system of global meat demand: The first is the possibility of a completely new production technique being created and contributing a significant amount of meat production in an economical and sustainable way. An example of this might be In vitro meat production, a technique that consists of the artificial growing of meat tissue in a laboratory. This technique would substantially lower the externalities and pollution created by the current production system and still provide nutritious, edible meat products. Another source of disruptive change would be sudden outbreak of food borne illness or increased consumer negativity toward meat products and their harmful health effects. Red meat is a leading cause of high cholesterol and coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States in 2009. New consumer attitudes, in addition to the sudden outbreak of illness from meat products, could cause a significant decrease in levels of demand. A third source of disruptive change could be the involvement of government agencies in the meat production


process, possibly to fairly ration meat products in the event of a shortage or limit the amount of pollution permitted in the process itself. Our model for plausible futures is based on increasing and decreasing levels of both meat demand and production technology/resource availability. Based on our model, we defined our preferred future as one where global meat demand continues to rise and meat production technology progresses significantly. In this future, meat is provided to all that demand it in a sustainable way that does not hurt the environment. Furthermore, this scenario presents significant opportunities for business, ranging from finding ways to provide healthier forms of meat to structurally altering the production process and stressing sustainability.


The demand for meat is increasing, and the effects of higher meat consumption are undeniable. It is

pertinent to look ahead on this issue. Specifically, what is the future of global meat demand as it relates to growing world affluence, sustainability, and new production techniques? In order to best answer this question, certain indicators such as global meat consumption and world GDP per capita are taken into account. Notably, increasing global GDP, which suggests a growing affluence, is linked to a higher demand for meat as the world’s expanding middle class looks to adopt a more westernized diet. This rise in meat consumption has a number of negative economic, environmental and nutritional effects. As a result of trends suggesting that meat consumption and production will continue to increase, more sustainable methods of production must be developed with the help of new technology to offset these negative effects. However, when looking toward the future, there are a number of uncertainties to consider. These include whether or not the government will become involved in the meat industry, whether or not there will be an E. coli outbreak, and whether in-vitro meat cultivation will be successful. The outcomes of these uncertainties will have major implications for the world in general and for business.


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As developing countries become more industrialized and the global middle class continues to grow,

more and more populations are adopting a westernized diet. For example, Americans currently consume twice the global average of meat, which amounts to about 8 ounces per day, and they process nearly 10 billion animals total every year (Bittman, 2008). Therefore, in most cases a more westernized diet means consuming more meat, increasing the demand for meat products. Specifically, increasing world GDP is causing an increase in per capita income. Coupled with advances in technology, this means that more people than ever not only have a desire for, but also the ability to purchase, meat products. Other factors, such as increased urbanization, are also contributing to this growing demand. In order to meet this demand, not only are developed countries increasing their output of meat products with the use of factory farms, but meat production in developing countries is also growing at an even faster rate (State of Food and Agriculture, 2009). With more of the world population including meat in their diets, a number of health and nutrition issues have arisen. Many food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli, are transferred via meat (Marler, 2010). Furthermore, meat consumption is linked to increased cholesterol levels, which is at the root of many fatal health conditions. One such condition is heart disease, which has recently become the leading cause of death in the United States (Goldstein, 2003). Increased use of antibiotics in animals is also contributing to an increase in resistance among humans, which could lead to more serious issues in the future (Mellon, Benbrook, & Benbrook, 2001). Meat production has serious impacts on the environment. Large-scale meat production, such as factory farming, is not sustainable, and both large and small-scale production is linked to extremely high greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are a combination of gases released both by the production process itself and by livestock, the latter being in the form of methane (Livestock Impacts on the Environment, 2006). Furthermore, meat production has a huge impact on global energy and water use. With regard to these resources, production practices are unsustainable. This is also true of global land use. Not


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only is land being used to grow crops for animals rather than humans, but the animals are also contributing to land degradation and the destruction of valuable ecosystems (Horrigan, 2002). All of the negative economic, environmental and health effects have spurred research of alternative meat production methods. One promising option is in-vitro meat cultivation. This method involves culturing muscle tissue in a liquid medium. Essentially, meat could be produced in a laboratory, which would eliminate many of the current negative impacts of meat production today (Edelman, 2003). Ultimately, demand for meat is unlikely to decline in the future, and so the solution is likely twofold. We must improve upon existing practices by making livestock farming more sustainable, while also developing new technologies such as in-vitro meat production that together will help meet the growing demand for meat products. Growing meat demand and production is a continuing trend and hence, will have consequences for businesses involved in the meat sector. For example, fast food restaurants that emphasize meat products will see a surge in demand and markets will open up in developing countries. There will also be new business opportunities for companies looking to produce meat alternatives such as in-vitro meat. And as noted, current factory farming techniques are highly unsustainable and hence, will soon require government regulation. This will provide new business opportunities for companies to develop more efficient and sustainable methods of raising and processing livestock.

Literature Review According to the World Resource Institute, per capita meat consumption in the United States is about 41 kilograms per year, compared to the global average of 39 kg. While there is not quite as big of a disparity as one might think, many of the developing countries that will see the most growth in meat consumption are likely well below the global average at the moment. By 2020, global meat consumption in emerging markets is predicted to be over 200 million tons, compared to about 100 million tons in developed countries (Farchy & Meyer, 2010). From the 1970’s to the mid-1990’s, consumption of meat in developing countries has increased by 70 million metric tons (Delgado, 2003), nearly triple the increase seen in developed countries,


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and this growth rate is predicted to become even more exaggerated in the coming decades. Meat consumption in the developing world has doubled in the last 20 years, and overall world consumption is expected to double by 2050 (Bittman, 2008). This increasing demand is largely driven by demographic and economic factors. World GDP has nearly doubled in the past decade, resulting in rapid increases in per capita income. When per capita GDP and meat consumption levels are broken down by country, there is a strong positive relationship between increased incomes and increased meat consumption (State of Food and Agriculture, 2009). Urbanization is also strongly correlated with meat consumption. For example, in Southeast Asia from 1980-1998, income grew at a rate of 4-8% and urbanization at a rate of 4-6%, and meat consumption grew identically at a rate of 4-8% (Delgado, 2003). And since developing nations are experiencing urban growth rates of 3-5% per year, meat consumption should also continue to grow (State of Food and Agriculture, 2009). On the production side, meat output in developing countries has been growing at a rapid rate. East and Southeast Asia have shown the most significant growth, while China accounts for almost half of the meat production occurring in the developing world (State of Food and Agriculture, 2009). Cheaper inputs, advances in technology, and increased efficiency have contributed to relatively low livestock prices. Advanced breeding and feeding technology have increased productivity, while larger, long-distance, and refrigerated transport systems have made it easier to transport meat over long distances (State of Food and Agriculture, 2009). Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, most of the growth is in the poultry markets. At least 70% of the expected growth in both developed and developing countries will be in the pork and poultry markets (Delgado, 2003). This growth rate for poultry is predicted to be about 4% in developing countries and 1.5% in developed countries, both of which are at least 1% higher than any other livestock category (Delgado, 2003). Currently, global meat prices have hit a 20-year high as increasing demand has been met by lower production in some countries (Farchy & Meyer, 2010). These lower production levels have been due to rising grain and energy prices, droughts in some parts of the world, and other factors such as the recent global


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recession. With this in mind, the question must be raised in regards to how global meat demand will be met in the future.

Human Health There are various health and nutritional consequences of increased meat production and consumption. Some of these consequences are direct and result from the consumption of meat while others are indirect in nature and occur as a result of higher production. The major health and nutritional effects include increased cases of E. coli O157:H7, (commonly known as simply E. coli) and other food-borne illnesses, increased cholesterol levels in young adults, increased antibiotic resistance due to use of antimicrobials in livestock for non-therapeutic reasons, and disease that occurs from residence in proximity to livestock. The first negative effect of increased consumption of meat is increased cases of E. coli in the past thirty years. E. coli was not recognized until a major outbreak involving hamburger meat in 1982 (Altman, 1982). It was not required to be reported to public health authorities until five years later in 1987 (Marler, 2010). Undercooked beef is a major player in spreading E. coli. Pathogen producing strains of E. coli are found in the intestines of cattle. When the cattle are slaughtered, their intestines as well as feces become exposed to the rest of the carcass, and thus the possibility of contamination increases. Later in the production process, when certain meat is being processed into ground beef, there is an even greater risk of contamination since different parts of the carcass are being mixed together (Marler, 2010). E. coli is just one of the various food borne illnesses that are transferred via meat. Estimations made by the World Health Organization (WHO) conclude that approximately three million children die each year from food-borne caused diarrhea (Hall, Ehui, & Delgado, 2004). An increase in meat consumption will only increase that number. The WHO has also stated that although it is hard to fully quantify the accounts of food-borne illness in all the various countries in the world, the occurrence of food-borne illness of animal origin have increased in the past twenty years (Hall, Ehui, & Delgado, 2004). An example of another foodborne illness directly related to meat is the bacterium, Campylobacter. The WHO has reported that the number of cases of this bacterium is rising as well.


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Meat consumption not only poses the threat of food-borne illness but also increased cholesterol levels. High cholesterol was first identified as a cause of heart problems in 1910 by the German chemist Adolph Windaus. About forty years later, studies done at the University of California at Berkeley proved that the occurrence of heart attacks is linearly proportional to cholesterol levels (Goldstein, 2003). A major source of cholesterol is animal products, especially meat (New Straits Times, 2000). With the increase in global consumption of meat, the number of cases of high cholesterol globally will increase. In the US alone, between 1994 and 2002 cases of people young adults with high cholesterol grew by 2% (CDC, 2010). Antimicrobial usage in livestock has caused further global health and nutritional issues. When humans consume meat of animals treated with antibiotics, their bodies can start to build up resistances to the antibiotics. This becomes a serious problem because these antibiotics will no longer be effective in treating illnesses (Mellon, Benbrook, & Benbrook, 2001). This increases the rate of cases of bacterial infections and consequently, allows bacterial diseases to be spread more easily. Lastly, increased meat production will mean an increase in the occurrences of illnesses caused by living in close proximity to livestock. There is a multitude of diseases and infections that can be passed from livestock to humans and these vary by geographical region as well as by type of animal. One example of such a disease is the avian flu, which is spread through poultry in Vietnam and Thailand. A second example is the Nipah virus. An outbreak of this disease in Malaysia in 1998 required the slaughter of almost half of the nation’s pigs in order to combat it (Kazmin, 2004). As meat demand and production increases, the probability of the development of such diseases also rises putting more people at risk. Overall, all of these major health issues will all become more of a problem with continued expansion of the meat industry.

The Environment Currently, the large-scale production of meat is not sustainable, and industrialized farming has many harmful effects on the environment. And with the global increase in demand for meat, these problems will only get worse. Livestock are beginning to directly compete for scarce natural resources (Horrigan, 2002). One specific issue is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock and meat production. Overall, livestock produce 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than that produced by


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all the cars in the world (Bittman, 2008). More specifically, livestock are responsible for 9% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions due to the increased use of arable land to grow feed crops. Livestock are also responsible for 37% of anthropogenic methane, which is produced when the animals digest food. Additionally, they account for 65% of anthropogenic nitrous oxide that comes from their manure. These last two gases are particular contributors to global warming (Livestock Impacts on the Environment, 2006). If the number of livestock continues to increase in order to meet global demand, these emissions will go up as well. Not only is livestock manure contributing to global warming by adding to greenhouse gas emissions, it also creates toxic environments for areas surrounding farms. The USDA estimated that livestock produced 1.4 billion tons of waste in 1997. While manure is often used to fertilize crops, factory farms are simply producing too much of it, and there is nowhere for it to go. Therefore, the waste is stored in pits or “lagoons” (Horrigan, 2002). These pits often spill over into local waterways and pollute nearby ecosystems. In fact, only a third of ingested nutrients are absorbed by livestock, and hence, their waste seriously contributes to land and water pollution (Environment and Social Impact, 2010). This contamination is responsible for nutrient loading in local ecosystems and subsequent death of fish populations. The Food and Agriculture Organization suggests improving animal diets in order to ensure better nutrient absorption and hence, less nutrient overloading in water sources. They also recommend overall better management of manure in industrial production. A system of accountability should be put into place that would respectively reward or punish those who properly dispose of waste and those who pollute (Livestock Impacts on the Environment, 2006). The meat industry has a huge impact on global water and energy use. The livestock sector accounts for 8% of global water use (The State of Food and Agriculture, 2009) and the practices that contribute to this are unsustainable. For example, in areas of the U.S., a great deal of water is used to irrigate feed crops. Crops that serve as food for cows in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and the Texas panhandle all rely on diminishing ground water supplies for irrigation. In addition, beef production uses 100 times as much water as growing grain that would supply an equivalent amount of protein energy. More specifically, it takes 2,400 gallons of water and 9 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef (Horrigan, 2002). As it is fast becoming one of the


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world’s most valuable resources, water must be conserved more effectively by the meat industry if the industry is going to continue expanding. Currently, water is underpriced in many countries, so water markets that better account for water value need to be developed (Livestock Impacts on the Environment, 2006). Energy waste is also a huge issue when looking at the sustainability of the meat industry. A large amount of energy is lost when producing meat because the animals are inefficient at converting the grain they eat. For example, cattle require 7 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef. On a similar note, farms use 35 kilocalories of fossil fuel energy to make 1 kilocalorie of food energy (Horrigan, 2002). Overall, it would be much more efficient for humans to eat the equivalent protein energy directly in grains rather than have animals waste energy while converting their food. Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources and hence, these practices are highly unsustainable and need to be evaluated and corrected. Finally, a major environmental concern associated with the meat industry is land degradation and loss of biodiversity. Both livestock grazing and the extensive use of cropland for growing feed crops contribute to soil erosion and degradation. Heavy grazing by livestock and the consequent loss of vegetation destroys the topsoil (Horrigan, 2002). Twenty-six percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface is used for grazing, and feed crops occupy nearly one third of all arable land. In order to provide more land for grazing, forests are often cut down. So far, seventy percent of forests that have been cut down in the Amazon are used for pasture and much of the rest of this land is used for growing feed crops. In the future, it would be prudent to work to restore the significant amount of damaged land by practicing soil conservation. There are a number of sensitive areas or habitats on which livestock encroach. The previously mentioned deforestation is wiping out entire ecosystems. Hence, there is a loss of biodiversity as more plant and animal species disappear. This is due to the fact that livestock now make up 20% of all terrestrial animals, and this number is only growing. Three hundred and six of the eight hundred and twenty-five terrestrial eco-regions have livestock listed as a “current threat,” while twenty-three of Conservation International’s thirty-five “global hotspots for biodiversity” are affected by livestock. These areas have a serious amount of habitat loss already and are in significant danger. Governments could soon be forced to strictly regulate meat production. This could limit the amount of meat produced, meaning that it may be


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impossible to meet global meat demand. This could not only cause prices to increase but would create a need for the development of new technologies and better production practices (Horrigan, 2002).

Technology Today’s meat production industry in the USA and other industrialized countries is dominated by large factory farms and production centers that are vertically integrated, meaning that one company controls nearly every aspect of meat production and processing (Walker, 2005). In 1996, 79% of all cattle slaughters (a total of 22.6 million) occurred at only 22 different facilities (Slaughterhouses and Processing, 2009). As of 2005, four companies controlled over 80% of beef production in the United States, and three of these same four companies controlled 60% of the U.S.’s pork production. In addition, the four major producers of chicken are responsible for over 50% of the country’s chicken supply (Boyd, 2001). Current methods of meat production require enormous amounts of grains and thus are linked with agriculture and grain feed production. With demand for meat continuing to increase, grain producers may eventually be unable to produce enough food staples to both feed cattle and provide for the human race. The technology of grain feed production has changed rapidly in the past 60 years. Since the end of World War II, the traditional small farming system of crop production has been replaced by an industrial agriculture system that is dependent upon synthetic inputs like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, extensive irrigation, significant fossil fuel use, and harvest mechanization (Walker, 2005). Major increases in productivity and crop yields have resulted from this new agricultural system, but have come at a great cost to the environment and public health. Current large scale industrial farming techniques have led to depletion of fossil fuels, land, and water resources and the polluting of the environment from byproducts of insect deterring chemicals. This recent industrialization of grain production has produced yields sufficient enough in the short term to feed larger numbers of cattle, poultry, and pigs than could be fed traditionally through grazing (Walker, 2005). While these farming techniques may be sufficient to sustain current meat production levels, this will soon not be the case. Increased demand and pressure from the pollution of the environment have led to the research and early stages of development of meat “in vitro”, or artificially grown meat tissues for human


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consumption. Meat production in vitro has been proposed as a safe, humane and environmentally friendly beneficial alternative to slaughtered animal flesh as a source of nutritional muscle tissue (Datar, 2010). The basic methodology of an in vitro meat production system (IMPS) involves culturing muscle tissue in a liquid medium on a large scale (Edelman, 2003). The conditions of IMPS are controlled and measureable, but major questions still exist about an IMPS’s ability to meet basic nutrition requirements or be produced on a large scale. Meat production in vitro will also prevent the spread of animal borne disease and allow for a safer and healthier product for consumption (Edelman, 2003). While these potential benefits have influenced several organizations to research and methodize an IMPS, many of the proposed techniques have not yet been tested and will take time to be tested for possible development into large scale manufacturing programs. The technical demands of large scale meat production in vitro are unseen in the current world of medical research and will require technological advances as well as significant research and innovation (Datar, 2010). In addition, it is absolutely necessary that an in vitro meat production system be developed according to the rules and regulations of good cell culture practice as well as current good manufacturing practice as pertaining to food and drug production (Datar, 2010). The greatest challenge comes with the commercial implementation of an IMPS, where cost effectiveness and consumer toleration will be vital to the survival and success of the production technique. In vitro meat production on an industrial scale is feasible only when a relatively cost-effective process creating a product qualitatively competitive with existing meat products is established and provided with governmental subsidization like that provided to other agricultural businesses (Datar, 2010). Therefore, implementation of such a production technique will require significant technological research and innovation in order to alleviate the strain of a growing world demand for meat on the earth’s natural resources and environment.

Data and Evidence Framework In order to address our research question, we will be using and forecasting several different factors. Since data does exist on the current and historical levels of global meat production and consumption, we can use these as a starting point for predicting future growth. Many of the key indicators for meat consumption


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levels are demographic and economic in nature. These include total population, GDP per capita, and urbanization levels. Much of our data thus far has come from both the World Resource Institute and the World Bank. The total population of the world is increasing, particularly in the developing world. Since everyone on the planet will always have a need for food, meat demand is naturally increasing along with it. In particular, however, GDP per capita is also increasing in the world as a whole, which means more people than ever are able to afford meat. As urbanization rates increase (again, particularly in developing countries), meat is more widely available through channels such as grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Some of our literature has shown that percentage changes in urbanization and GDP per capita almost directly correlate with changes in meat demand. By analyzing the above demographic factors and observing the trends, we can correlate these to derive future levels of meat consumption for the next twenty years. For our model, the dependent variable is the global level of meat consumption in metric tons per year. Through data analysis, we’ve found that we only need to forecast two factors in order to predict this accurately: GDP per capita and urbanization. For the years 1961-2002, a multiple regression between these two factors and global meat consumption yielded an R2 value of 0.999, meaning that virtually all of the variation in meat consumption can be explained by our two factors. When we applied the resulting regression equation to historical data, the predicted numbers for meat consumption were very close to the actual data, with an error of no more than about 2% for any given year. In addition to exploring future levels of consumption, we also want to observe the effects this will have on areas such as the environment. Using current estimations of water and land use by agriculture, we can qualitatively describe how much more of these resources we will need if we continue at the current pace. Our expectations are that this resource demand will be too much for the world to handle sustainably.

Results Total World Population: Since the 1960’s, the rate of population growth has steadily slowed. However, the world population is still growing every year, and as our numbers increase we are adding the next billion people even faster than the last. Since growth rates have decreased by about 0.01% a year for the


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past five years, we used this trend to project future population levels. By 2030, we will have about 8.4 billion people, up from 6.8 billion today. Just 40 years ago, it took about 15 years to add 1 billion to the population. At today’s levels, we can achieve this in about 12 years.

Number of  People   (Billions)  

Figure 1.  Total  World  Population 10   8   6   4   2   0   1970  









Urbanization: Urbanization rates have remained very steady over the years, so, barring major disruptive changes, we can predict future levels with a good degree of accuracy. In the past 40 years, global urbanization rates have been between 2-3% per year, and recently these numbers have hovered closer to the bottom of that range. Using a constant 2% growth rate, we would see over 5.1 billion people living in urban areas in 2030, up from about 3.5 billion today. This 1.6 billion increase is also significant because we also forecasted an overall population increase of about 1.6 billion, meaning that almost all of the population growth will be in urban areas.

Number of  People  in   Urban  Areas  (Billions)  

Figure 2.  Total  Urban  Population  (billions) 6   5   4   3   2   1   0   1970  










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GDP per capita: In 2009, global GDP per capita decreased for the first time in almost 20 years due to the recession. During that timeframe, GDP increased by an average of 1.3%. We forecasted GDP for the next 20 years by assuming a small decline for 2010 as the world still recovers economically, and then used a 1.5% growth rate to give us a baseline picture. At that rate, GDP per capita would increase from about $8600 to $11,300, or about 32% in just twenty years. As illustrated in the graph, this estimate is actually fairly conservative compared to the growth that has occurred over the past decade. Of the two variables, this is the more difficult to predict, but we feel that a conservative estimate will still result in significant growth in meat consumption. Figure 3.  World  GDP  per  capita  (US$)  

GDP per  capita  (US$)  

12,000 10,000   8,000   6,000   4,000   2,000   0   1970  



2000 2010   Year  




Meat Consumption: Because data on global meat consumption exists, we can create a baseline forecast for meat demand in the next 20 years. Consumption has grown by almost a constant 3% the past several years. At this rate, global meat demand would be about 565 million metric tons by 2030, up from about 300 million today. This is a startling figure for an industry that already uses so many resources. The results of our model were not quite this drastic, but still predicted a significant increase in meat consumption according to our predictions for GDP per capita and urbanization. Demand in 2002 was about 247million metric tons, and our model predicts consumption will reach 437 million metric tons by 2030, an increase of 77%.


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Meat Consumption  (metric   tons)  

Figure 4.  Projected  Global  Meat  Consumption   500,000,000   450,000,000   400,000,000   350,000,000   300,000,000   250,000,000   200,000,000   150,000,000   100,000,000   50,000,000   0   1950   1960   1970   1980   1990   2000   2010   2020   2030   2040   Year  

Effects of Increased D emand on W orld Resources Land: Since 1961, there has been positive growth in the amount of land converted into arable land and pastures. Currently, about 38% of the total land available on earth is used for crops or livestock. However, these numbers have actually been increasing at a decreasing rate due to a greater focus on intensification of land rather than extensification. For example, 29% of the growth in crop production over the past 40 years has been due to land expansion, with the other 71% coming from higher crop yields and more intensive farming practices. (Steinfeld et al 2006) While it may seem that agriculture is becoming more sustainable, these intensification practices raise the issue of land degradation, which has been accelerating over the years. Ultimately, we will need to expand and find new land for agriculture to meet growing demand, and much of this will likely come at the expense of forests and other natural habitats. For grazing animals, however, even this strategy will not last long. Grazing land already covers about 35 million square kilometers, and South America, Southeast Asia, and Central Africa are the only areas in the world that still have significant forest areas that could be used for grazing. (Steinfeld et al 2006) In other areas, this land has already been exhausted and there is minimal room for expansion. Water: According to the United Nations, the total volume of freshwater resources is about 35 million cubic kilometers. Thirty percent of this is stored as groundwater, but this source accounts for 97% of


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the freshwater available for use. In total, freshwater is about 2.5% of the total volume of water on earth, and only 1% of this amount is usable for humans. Our water use has been growing at twice the rate of population growth in the past century. UN estimates forecast a 50% increase in water withdrawals in developing countries by 2025, compared to an 18% increase in developed countries. (State of Food & Agriculture 2009) As stated earlier, livestock directly accounts for about 8% of global water usage. There are very different levels of use within this category, however. Cattle require about 4,000 cubic meters of water, while poultry only requires 6 cubic meters. While this may not seem like a large amount, when you consider that there are about 15x as many chickens as cattle on the planet, it all adds up to a significant amount of water input. Our forecasted increase in consumption would mean that, barring major technological change, livestock numbers would likely also need to increase by 77% to meet all of the new demand. With the world’s water resources already becoming constrained, it is hard to imagine how we will be able to meet new demand using current practices. Overall, it is clear that the future global environment will be demanding meat at greater levels. While this would likely occur due to simple population growth, the fact that GDP per capita also continues to expand means that, not only will people be demanding meat, but they will be demanding more meat per person. As previously stated, our current projection for GDP per capita is actually conservative based on recent trends, so some type of reduction in growth would be necessary to keep levels from rising out of control. Also, the trend of increasing urbanization is one that shows no signs of slowing down. Growing urbanization increases the accessibility of meat for larger amounts of people. Since almost all of our forecasted population growth will occur in urban areas, this means that not only will population increase, but most of this population will have readily available access to meat from birth, unlike previous generations. These trends will all contribute to driving up the demand for meat another 200 million metric tons in just the next 20 years. With livestock already using so much of the available land and water supply, it is unclear whether or not this level of production will be possible, much less sustainable. One trend that we are already seeing is a rapid growth in the poultry sector. Since poultry use less resources and require much less land, this is a positive trend that will hopefully continue. Prices for meat will continue to rise, and governments


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will likely step in to regulate the industry. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at an alarming rate, further pressure will be placed on the industry from outside regulators because livestock production already accounts for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Analysis of Alternative Futures Based on our data analysis and projections for the future, total meat demand will continue to increase rapidly and meat availability and production will soon become much more prominent issues on a global scale. Population will continue to increase (with a vast majority of the growth coming in urban city centers), mostly in the developing world in Asia, Africa, and South America. GDP per capita and overall world affluence will continue to grow with continued technological progress and greater global cohesiveness on human aid projects designed to stimulate developing economies and extract most of the world’s poorest citizens from poverty. Our expected future is one that sees continued increases in world affluence and GDP growth. As a result, the already increasing global levels of meat demand will rise further and eventually cause a strain on our current meat production and processing techniques. Total meat consumption will increase along with meat consumption per capita, creating a major strain on meat supplies. With increased output resulting from greater demand, meat production facilities will continue to be major contributors of hazardous pollution and greenhouse gases and will become even less sustainable. Land use for livestock growth and processing will increase, leaving less available farmland for growing crops to feed the world’s poorer regions. This current expected future is not sustainable and begins to place an unbearable strain on land usage and the world’s natural resources. However, uncertainties exist in this future that could affect our predictions and assumptions. Meat production techniques are currently unsustainable and require anywhere from small to significant change to satisfy the growing demand that our model predicts. New food borne illness or new discoveries about adverse affects of meat consumption on one’s health are plausible in the next 10 to 20 years and would affect global meat demand. Furthermore, with continuing emphasis placed on sustainability and environmental


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consciousness by the developed and developing world, government agencies may step in and attempt to regulate meat production and/or consumption in the next few decades. These uncertainties affect overall global meat demand as well as the ways in which meat is produced for the consumer. The following three situations represent major sources of disruptive change and will have a serious impact on global meat demand: The widespread adoption of new production techniques, specifically In Vitro meat production Continued growth in world affluence and urbanization will lead to further increases in meat demand and consumption, and current production techniques will become more and more egregious toward the environment and local communities when subjected to greater pressures for more output at competitive prices. Soon, society as a whole will demand new production techniques that have less adverse affects on the environment. A new and promising production technique, “In Vitro” meat production, is currently being researched and shows immense promise but is still years away from being capable of mass production on an economically feasible scale. However, with the pressures of increasing global meat demand and demands for more sustainable production techniques, scientific research and development regarding meat production will substantially increase and lead to the mass production of laboratory-grown animal meat tissue. In Vitro production could become a serious alternative to traditional production techniques within the next 10 to 20 years, and will thereby substantially increase the meat production industry’s ability to meet global meat demand. As a result, meat production as a whole can become much more sustainable over time and can have less of a negative impact on the environment. Adverse health conditions due to the overconsumption of meat are more publicized and taken into account The adverse effects of overconsumption of meat on human health and wellness have been made public in the past, but so far have not been bad enough to cause any noticeable decline in global meat demand. Meat, specifically beef and red meat, contains substantial amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol (Daniells 2010), both of which are proven dietary causes of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Red and processed meats have also been linked to significant increases in one’s risk of developing cancer


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when over consumed on a daily basis (Daniells 2010). Meat consumption in America and the rest of the developed world has been increasing significantly over the past few decades, and may become an even larger detriment to human health. With 21st century trends focused on better health and dietary habits as well as a strong focus on the prevention of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States in 2009 (Daniells 2010), it is plausible to believe that meat demand could increase at a significantly lower rate if not level off or actually decrease in developed countries over the next 20 years. At the very least, demand could shift from traditional beef and red meat to lean meats like poultry and fish, two subsectors of meat that require less resources and are healthier for the human body (Daniells 2010). In addition, with outbreaks of mad cow disease and swine flu in recent decades, global meat demand could also be affected by the potential outbreak of food borne illness. An outbreak of this nature could, like rising health concerns, cause a reduction in increasing levels of demand or even cause demand to decrease slightly in several parts of the world. The implications from either of these possibilities would be less pressure to increase meat production capacity and subsequently a smaller impact on the environment made by the meat production process. The world population could have its meat demand satisfied with less total output, and producers would have more freedom to research and develop more sustainable production processes. Government agencies attempt to regulate and control meat production Recently, both the United States government and other governments around the globe have increased their scopes of influence. New bills and laws have been enacted to regulate more facets of everyday life, including healthcare bills and systems, large entitlement programs, financial reforms, and government sponsored bailouts. With the huge focus placed upon sustainability and preserving the environment by NGOs and governments around the world in the past decade in addition to the fact that world meat demand has been growing at increasing levels, it is plausible to believe that governments will step in and attempt to substantially regulate the meat production industry. This could range from a government takeover of production facilities to government restrictions on the amount of meat permitted to be consumed or produced. Government intervention could force the production process to become more efficient and subsequently alleviate some of the strain on the environment caused by meat production. Prices may


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potentially increase, but this event could actually help lower meat demand and require less meat production. With more refined and sustainable processes in place, the government could eventually take a smaller role in the industry and act as more of a watchdog. Our scenario matrix, shown below, explores possible alternative futures based on changing resource availability and changing levels of global meat demand. Resource availability will be affected primarily by drivers of change such as land and water usage, changes or lack thereof in meat production technology and processes, and current and future levels of climate change and environmental awareness. The level of global meat demand, our dependent variable and the focus of this project, will be affected by growth in the developing world including rising levels of GDP per capita and increasing urbanization, diet preferences regarding meat and meat products, and the possibility of new food borne illnesses arising and affecting substantial numbers of people. We will explore three of the four possible scenarios in depth and discuss how our stakeholders will be affected. A nalysis of plausible scenarios

Decreased world   af8luence  and  increased   resource  availability   leads  to  reduced  prices   for  meat  and  greater   unused  resources  

Increased world   af8luence  and  increased   resource  availability   leads  to  "meat  for  all"  

Decreased world   af8luence  and  decreased   resource  availability   leads  to  a  stagnant  meat   industry,  with  little   room  for  growth  but   less  demand  to  strain   resources  

Increased world   af8luence  and  decreased   resource  availability   leads  to  ever-­‐increasing   prices  and  a  shortage  of   meat,  some  of  which   will  be  met  by   development  of   alternative  meat  forms  


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Scenario 1: Decreased world affluence and increased resource availability Traditional meat production techniques are improved steadily over a 20 year period. The world continues to stress sustainability and more efficient usages of resources, and the meat producing industry is no exception. More refined resource extraction techniques and better use of resources reduces the strain on land and water availability and also reduces the negative impact of meat production on the environment. Simultaneously, the world economy struggles to emerge from the recession and remains sluggish. Global efforts to aide those in poverty in the developing world continue, but meat demand in the developing world ceases to grow at such an alarming rate. More people in the developed world become aware of the dangers of meat overconsumption, and consequently meat demand growth decreases and levels off at levels of world population growth. The world health organization publishes more profound evidence linking red meat consumption to coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, and the developed world becomes a more responsible group of meat consumers. As a result, the meat producing industry can still earn high profits, but at a lesser cost to the environment and local communities. More health conscious citizens in the developed world continue to consume meat with nearly every meal, but demand smaller portions and more naturally raised meat products. Resources are used more efficiently in meat production, with less land being used to grow crops for cash cattle consumption. As a result, more land is dedicated toward growing foodstuffs for poverty stricken adults to consume. Scenario 2: Both world affluence and resource availability increase, leading to “Meat for all” More efficient resource production techniques resource usage leads to increased availability and lower economic cost of the land, water, and energy resources instrumental in meat production. Resource availability increases as in the previous scenario, and more efficient meat production techniques are developed and implemented. Therefore, more meat is produced and available to fulfill the world’s growing meat demand at a lower cost to the environment. The world economy quickly recovers and rises out of recession. Technological development continues to increase at a rapid rate, and world trade flourishes as individual economies become increasingly global.


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Today’s NGO focus on ending world hunger gains greater momentum worldwide, and the amount of people living in extreme poverty decreases from the current level of 900 million to less than 300 million people. As a result, global meat demand continues to rise at an increasing rate, fueled mainly by growth in the developing regions of Asia, Africa, and South America. Greater resource availability and more efficient production techniques enable growing global meat demand to be satisfied in a sustainable way that presents ample opportunity for business. As in the first scenario, the meat production industry continues to earn a profit and is able to create more jobs while decreasing its negative impact on the environment. Although meat overconsumption is linked to coronary heart disease, meat continues to be consumed at a responsible rate in the developed world. This scenario represents a world when all global meat demand can be satiated without causing serious harm to the environment. Scenario 3: World affluence continues to increase, but resource availability remains limited and no new meat production techniques are developed This scenario represents the least desirable scenario that would be the most susceptible to disruptive change. World affluence will continue to increase, as in scenario 2, and global meat demand will continue to rise at increasing levels. However, no new meat production techniques have been wholly developed and existing production techniques are becoming increasingly strained to the point that their negative effects on the environment are being made public and coming under fire from the government. Meat prices will rise higher and meat will become less available, especially for the developing countries with new availability to purchase meat. Disruptive change will eventually result, forcing the world to look for more sustainable and resource efficient meat production techniques and possibly decrease overall meat demand.

Strategic Implications for Business Decreased world affluence and increased resource availability In the first scenario of decreased world affluence and increased resource availability, various opportunities, risks, and ethical implications are present. The one most prevalent opportunity that would


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arise from this scenario include moving into non-meat, (or more specifically non-red mead), food production markets. With the increased knowledge of the health problems associated with meat, those in developed countries will be cutting down their meat consumption yet replacing that meat reduction with other types of food. In the developing countries, the shift away from desiring a westernized diet filled with meat will also increase a demand for non-meat food. This creates great opportunity for companies to enter into grain, produce, and even poultry or fish markets. Ways to capitalize on this opportunity include finding the overall favorite substitute that people are replacing meat with and jumping into that market. Here companies would have the highest chances of profit capitalization. Risks that arise from this scenario would be the profits of the meat market declining. Although the demand for meat in developed countries is stable, the fact that it decreased because of health concerns points to the fact that these consumers see the benefits of healthier alternatives. If there were to ever be a healthier meat substitute produced, it could cause a great decline in the demand for meat and therefore decreased profits in the meat market. A way to minimize this risk would be for companies to stay up to date on any new meat-substitute research and development that is taking place in order to recognize the weak signals before it is too late. Ethical considerations regarding this scenario are fairly low. However, companies that remain in the meat market after the WHO’s publications on the health risks of some meat must make sure that they are being responsible and educating consumers on the importance of smaller portions of meat and being aware of how the meat was raised and processed. The strategic implications that arise from this scenario range widely. With such a great decrease in meat demand, businesses involved in the meat production process will suffer greatly. This not only includes those who raise cattle or the slaughterhouses, but it also includes the grain suppliers or barn contractors. This scenario could greatly and negatively impact multiple markets. On the other hand, this scenario allows for new business to emerge in markets of food production that do not include meat. This increase profits and production in these markets, which will stimulate new economies. Businesses need to be constantly watching consumer behavior to figure out is the preferred meat replacement and in order to position themselves for the best outcome they must be ready to jump at the opportunity to enter the market of


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whatever the product is. Overall the preferred outcome for this scenario would be a world where meat consumption decreases because of awareness of health purposes to the extent that the population is healthier but still consuming enough to keep the meat market alive and profitable for those businesses involved. Increased world affluence and increased resource availability In the second scenario, where there is an increased demand for meat and increased resource availability due to alternative meat production methods, there are various opportunities, risks, and ethical considerations at hand. Some of the business opportunities that result from this scenario include the emergence of a new market for alternative meat production processes. This will allow for various people and businesses to create new companies that produce things such as in-vitro meat. Because this market is new, companies will be able to jump right in and start making profits quickly. Also, because alternative meat production methods have not been present before, no one company has enough credibility to monopolize the market. This gives all firms entering the market equal opportunity to make a name for their company. One strategy for firms to capitalize on this opportunity is to be constantly investing a reasonable amount of money in research and development so that they are constantly on the search for the newest methods. If companies are always looking for new ideas and ways of producing meat, they will be able to enter the new market sooner and thus potentially have higher profits. Because there is no history with alternative meat production methods, some risks are present. First, there is no way of predicting the future of this market in regards to sales, production rates, consumption, and profits. Second, with any new market or industry, the research and development costs are usually extremely high. These costs can end up paying off in the end if the company is successful and the developed product has high sales, however, if the company does not take off these costs are great and the investors end up losing significant amounts of money. A way to minimize risk with the issue of research and development costs is to keep the amount invested in research and development fairly conservative until there is ample evidence that a new method could be found with more funds. A way to determine this would be to bring in consultants or other experts in the field that the company is researching. Lastly, an ethical consideration for this scenario would be to keep the quality of the alternative meat


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production high and create a good substitute product. Because it would be a new product or production method, there would be little to compare it to in regard to quality and that could lead to companies taking advantage of consumers. A way that this moral consideration could be addressed would be for there to be an agency of some sort that has set standards for different aspects of the meat produced so that all meat produced of alternative methods could be graded along the same scale of quality. The strategic implications this scenario could have range anywhere from positive and beneficial to harmful and detrimental. On one side of the scale, the addition of more efficient ways of producing meat could allow for the increase of resources that could be used for alternative purposes. Even if not used in production of goods, cutting down natural resource usage benefits the environment and protects the resources of future generation. On the other side, there is a possibility that a more efficient means of producing meat could end up creating havoc in the current meat-producing industry. If the more efficient method found ends up being so ideal that it causes old meat production methods obsolete, many companies in the current market would suffer greatly unless they quickly and efficiently changed to the new way of producing meat. The preferred outcome for this scenario would be one where the alternative methods of producing meat supplement yet do not replace current methods of meat production. This way a new market emerges that allows for more resources to be left for other uses while still allowing for the success of companies using the older methods. Increased world affluence and limited resource availability with no alternative methods Scenario three paints a picture of a world with increasing demand for meat coupled by a decrease in resources with no alternative production methods available. This scenario entails multiple opportunities, risks, and moral implications. Opportunities for business in this situation would be slim due to that fact that the major players in the meat market have probably already been determined at this point. However, within the meat market, those companies that can gain access to the highest amount of the dwindling resources will have the most opportunity for economic growth. The limited resources put a definite limit on the availability of opportunities for businesses. A strategy to capitalize on these opportunities would be for the major firms in the meat market to try to merge with or acquire other firms in order to increase available resources. Risks


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for business would include declining profits as resources decrease and prices are raised and the possibility of government regulation or price caps. Government regulation of meat prices and production would be beneficial to the consumer but costly to the production companies. This risk of this occurring as resources dwindle is something new firms or even current firms in the market need to seriously consider. The way to minimize these risks would be to keep prices as reasonable as possible to reduce decrease in demand from consumers and to decrease the need for government to come in and regulate. Lastly, the ethical considerations of this scenario are great. With the limited amount of meat and the high demand, firms will be able to charge exorbitant prices for meat. Because there is no meat alternative in this scenario, consumers will have no choice but to pay the ridiculous prices allowing the meat firms to obtain great profits at the expense of the consumers. This ethical problem would be addressed by eventual governmental action I the form of legislation that regulates the pricing on meat by the firms in the market. The range of strategic implications for this scenario is not as wide as the other two scenarios. Because there is no foreseen alternative method of meat production, the price of meat will only increase until the entire market collapses from lack of resources or an outside firm such as the government regulates everything. Businesses should position themselves in a way that they are looking for an opportunity to transition into a new market where the resources are not as limited and growth is possible. Overall, the preferred outcome for this scenario would be for the population to recognize the health concerns surrounding meat, decrease their demand, and therefore use less of the earth’s resources for meat production.

The Preferred Future Our preferred future most closely resembles the “meat for all” scenario. Ideally, we would like to see a world where everyone who has a desire for meat can buy it without having to pay exorbitant prices. Growing world affluence has many positive benefits beyond agriculture, and so we would like to continue to see global wealth increase. In order to do this, however, we must see the demand for meat level off. Not every society can eat meat at the levels that the United States and other global powers currently do. Countries should adopt more balanced diets in order to keep the meat supply readily available and affordable.


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Also, in order to realize our preferred future, resources and production methods must become more sustainable and efficient. The best outlook for the industry is one where meat is produced both through livestock as well as artificially in order to meet demand. Production methods must be improved in areas such as manure management, animal diets, and land and water pollution. Factory farming will likely continue to be the predominant production process as it is the best way to produce large quantities quickly and cheaply. If these production and technology developments are made and overall growth in the meat market is curbed, we will be able to provide for the needs of everyone now and in the future.

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Farchy, J., & Meyer, G. (2010, 9/2/2010). Meat price surge fuels fears of food inflation. Financial Times, pp. 13-22. Garnier, Jean-Pierre, Ronald Klont, Graham Plastow (2003, Jan). The Potential Impact of Current Animal Research on the Meat Industry and Consumer Attitudes Towards Meat. Meat Science, 63 (1), 79-88. Goldstein, Joseph L., and Michael S. Brown. (2003). "Cholesterol: A Century of Research." HHMI Bulletin.10-19. Print. Hall, D. C., S. Ehui, and C. Delgado. (2004). "The livestock revolution, food safety, and small-scale farmers: why they matter to us all. " Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 17.4-5 : 425426. ABI/INFORM Global, ProQuest. Web. 29 Sep. 2010. Horrigon, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker (2002, May). How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture. Research Review, 110 (5), 445-456. Kazmin, A. (2004, January 28). Greater livestock density blamed for disease rise :[LONDON 1ST EDITION]. Financial Times,p. 12. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 532422661). Livestock Impacts on the Environment (2006, Nov). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from Marler, B. (2010). About E. coli. Retrieved from Mellon, M., Benbrook, C., & Benbrook, K.L. (2001). Hogging it: estimates of antimicrobial abuse in livestock. Union of Concerned Scientists, 1-49. New Straits Times (Malaysia).(2000, April 18). “The truth about cholesterol”, pp. 5. Speedy, A. W. (2003). Global production and consumption of animal source foods. Journal of Nutrition, 133(11), 4048S-4053. Steinfeld, Henning. Gerber, Pierre. Wassenaar, Tom. Castel, Vincent. Rosales, Mauricio. De Haan, Cees. “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 2006 The State of Food and Agriculture 2009: Livestock in the Balance. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2009. Print. The Issues: Slaughterhouses and Processing. (2009). Retrieved from The Issues: Factory Farming. (2009). Retrieved from


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Meating Global Demand  

Research Paper on the future of the meat industry and its impacts on the environment.