The future of meat

Meat is a complete source of protein, that is, it consists of nine essential amino acids that we can not obtain except with food. That's why global health institutions recommend a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. There is no essential food: soy or chickpeas are also complete sources of protein. Of course, if you do not eat meat you have to take supplements to alleviate vitamin B12 deficiency, present only in animal proteins.

360,000 people are born in the world every day, the vast majority of them will be omnivorous. In Europe and North America, with only 16% of the population, 50% of meat protein consumption is concentrated. The forecasts of FAO, the United Nations Food Organization, affirm that while the middle class grows in Asia and Africa, the consumption of meat will increase in these continents, the West will equate more to its weight demographic. The same predictions indicate that consumption in the West will not grow.

Worldwide, poultry consumption is more likely to grow (over 100% until 2050) than 40% more pork and almost 60% more calves. This will be due to the low cost of meat poultry and the exclusion of pork meat in Muslim countries.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about animal welfare, the ecological footprint and the caloric intake of food. This tells us that we must update farms, because we will be subject to continuous regulatory and probably tax renewal. Distribution companies will also require more welfare certificates, carbon footprint, etc.

Three phenomena

From these concerns emerge three phenomena: veganism, consumption of insects and synthetic meat. I think veganism will be limited to a small part of the population (between 3% and 5%), but it will have great media importance. In fact now it's already there, both on television, in the press and on Netflix. According to Google Trends, research on vegetarian food products has multiplied three in English since 2015. Yes, it seems that the West will push for flexitarism: rather vegetarian people, but sometimes they consume meat and fish.

Insect consumption is talked about because they have more protein percentage by weight than meat, but it seems hard to imagine that it has a major impact on the consumption of proteins of the future because it is not culturally accepted.

Finally, the production of synthetic meat, whose origin would be an animal cell, is perhaps the biggest threat to the sector. The consistency is the same as that of meat (which makes it culturally acceptable), but for now the large amount of energy needed to produce it makes it extremely expensive. We can be sure that this will be achieved, what is uncertain is the impact it will have on the industry.

Jaume Abellana is an entrepreneur in the zootechnical and agricultural sector.

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