NewsMeat consumption - food supply is jeopardized

Meat consumption – food supply is jeopardized

Created: 10/13/2022 10:19 am

More and more meat is being consumed around the world. A study has looked into the effects of meat consumption – with a disturbing result.

Frankfurt – The worldwide increase in meat consumption and the type of food production are jeopardizing future food supplies. This is the result of a study called “The Coming Sustainable Food Revolution” by the management consultancy PwC Strategy&.

As the world population continues to grow, more food is needed to feed everyone. Therefore, according to the study, it is important to change course as quickly as possible and to focus on a more sustainable use of resources and more efficient production.

Person beim Einkaufen in der Fleischabteilung im Supermarkt
More and more meat is being consumed around the world. (Iconic image) © IMAGO/Martin Wagner

High meat consumption – the food industry uses two thirds of the water

In order to be able to produce food, a lot of water is required – animal products in particular have a high consumption. For example, one kilogram of beef contains over 15,000 liters of water, according to the animal welfare organization PETA . This is mainly due to the fact that livestock not only drink water, but also water is needed for fodder cultivation in livestock farming.

The food industry now uses two-thirds of the world’s water. In addition, it is loaded with nutrients. This happens, among other things, through the heavy fertilization of fields, which means that pollutants can get into the groundwater. The food industry is also responsible for three quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions, the study continues.

Here, too, the meat industry is held primarily responsible. The consumption of meat and animal products has risen sharply in recent decades. 80 percent of agricultural land is now used directly or indirectly for meat production. At the same time, meat accounts for only about 11 percent of global calorie consumption.

Food supply – The war in Ukraine is causing prices to rise

How quickly the current system of food production reaches its limits has only recently been demonstrated. The war in Ukraine has caused food prices to rise drastically worldwide.

Establishing efficient supply chains is therefore extremely important. Around a third of all food is currently thrown away because it spoils due to delays in transport, during harvest or for other reasons. PwC proposes, for example, optimizing irrigation and more precisely tracking the goods during delivery. This should contribute to sustainability and prevent future price increases.

Fleisch und Wursttheke in einem Supermarkt
Meat production threatens the food supply. (Iconic image) © IMAGO/Jakub Porzycki

Reducing meat consumption makes for more sustainability

Reducing meat consumption is an effective way to make nutrition more sustainable and thereby secure the food supply. While one kilogram of beef uses more than 15,000 liters of water in production, one kilogram of grain only requires 1,600 liters of water. But there are also differences between the types of meat. According to the study, for example, 30 percent water can be saved if chicken meat is used instead of beef. The most sustainable is a vegetarian or plant-based diet. (Kilian Bäuml/dpa)

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