IN the next few decades, the global population will reach 9 billion people, and more than 3 billion will enter the middle class.
That increase in population and affluence at the checkout counter will likely mean that pork production will need to increase 50% by 2050 (Infographic).
An analysis by Elanco Animal Health indicates that, in fact, the fastest period of that growth will occur in just the next six years.
For its "Global Food Forward Analysis," Elanco assembled a team of experts to study the situation. The model used has been affirmed by Informa Economics and Global AgriTrends.
Unlike milk and eggs, the analysis notes that the availability of pork per person has doubled since 1961, from 5.4 oz. to 10.7 oz. per week.
By 2050, the analysis shows that there will be a need for about 1 oz. more pork per person per week to meet global demand. In overall terms, that means production will need to increase by 61 million tons to a total of 179 million tons.
"Our research shows that pork producers are making great strides in production efficiency. In fact, the industry can meet future demand on fewer resources than were used in 2010, but it requires the right approach," said Rob Aukerman, president of U.S. operations for Elanco. "It requires acceptance of innovation and best practices and the ability to bring new technologies and practices to the market. Otherwise, this story could go the other way."
Today, 1.38 billion pigs are raised globally. Without additional access to innovation, the industry would need to add 710 million more pigs on a global basis to provide consumers with the 12 oz. of pork they will expect each week in 2050, Aukerman said during a press event held at the World Pork Expo.
Aukerman noted that an increase of 710 million pigs would require about a 50% increase in resource use.
Yet, with expanded access to innovation, farmers can produce 50% more pork with only 1.7 billion pigs and fewer resources than they currently use. It is estimated that the annual savings would be 484 million tons of feed (enough to fill railcars that would circle the Earth's equator twice), 262 million acres of land (equivalent to the size of Texas and California combined) and 260 billion gal. of water (the same annual household consumption of New York City and Philadelphia, Pa., combined).
With the global population already overusing Earth's resources, Aukerman said critical savings must be achieved, and that is best accomplished through policies and practices that allow producers to optimize efficient production.
Today, the average pig grows to 229 lb. in 38.6 weeks. Top producers, though, are raising pigs that are 44 lb. heavier and far more efficient, reaching market weight about 70 days earlier, Aukerman noted.
He said in order to achieve future needs, the new research found that pigs will need to be 9 lb. heavier than today's leaders and reach that weight about three weeks earlier.
"With a growing population and increasing demand for meat, milk and eggs, our industry must continue to innovate and bring novel, safe technology to the market that will help producers deliver more pork in a sustainable way," Aukerman said.
He added that this is critical given that food insecurity is directly linked to global security.
Likewise, growth and cognitive development of children have been linked to proper nutrition. Aukerman referenced a landmark observational study in Kenya that demonstrated that when children's diets were supplement with meat or milk, learning and subsequent test scores improved.
The study spanned five school terms and showed a 45% increase in test scores when meat was added to the students' diet and a 28% increase when milk was added.
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