Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Changing markets put pressure on livestock sector

Pressure from consumers, policymakers and investment funds are all reshaping the livestock sector.

Market pressures driven by concerns over the environmental and health aspects of producing and eating meat are likely to influence changes in the livestock sector, a review study suggests.

Producers may need to respond to changing consumer preferences, as well as pressures from sector investors and government concerned by the risks and impacts of raising livestock and of meat consumption, research indicates.

Researchers from the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security reviewed economic studies of sustainable livestock systems, considering aspects that are likely to affect demand in the sector.

Consumer pressure

The global consumption of meat is converging, as consumers in developed regions opt to eat less meat and better products including meat substitutes, while meat demand is growing in low- and middle-income countries.

Consumers’ concerns relate to animal welfare, health risks, and the increasingly conspicuous climate impact of eating meat.

The also sector faces concerns from investors in relation to the risks emerging from the same issues, most of which are related to intensive production systems.   

On current trends livestock production is expected to account for 80 per cent of all greenhouse emissions by the year 2050, with similar risks emerging in relation to antimicrobial resistance and land use.

Producers may need to respond with technical innovation or revised production practices to ensure sustainability, scientists suggest.

Meanwhile, policymakers must manage the impacts of these so-called social costs on health.

The study was published in Animal.

Consumer preferences will increasingly shape the livestock sector as aspects such as environmental and health impacts of raising animals are increasingly pertinent. Behavioural, market and government interventions are likely to combine in responding to societal acceptability in the sector. 

Professor Dominic MoranProfessor of Agricultural and Resource Economics


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