Following the recent World Meat Congress, guest blogger Audrey Moulierac, from the AHDB office in Brussels, takes a look at some of the issues raised.
delegates from around the world gathered to discuss the challenges ahead for
the global meat industry – during the 20th session of the World Meat
Congress held in Beijing from 14 to 16 June – the question of the sector’s
responsibility in feeding a growing world population needed to be addressed.
Latest estimates indeed show that the world will need an extra 60 per cent of
animal-based proteins by 2050.
tackling food security and the sustainability of agriculture, it seems more and
more obvious that we moved from a paradigm where meat was referred to as part
of the problem to one where it has become part of the solution.
speakers from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
acknowledged the importance of the livestock sector, which employs over 1.3
billion people around the world and provides a livelihood for 1 billion of the
can the meat industry take part in feeding the 9 billion then? The main answer
heard at the Congress – although not the only one – was trade.
way forward to tackle food availability is to push for free trade, not just for
production, stressed Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. While many
delegates agreed, adding that worldwide trade barriers should be dismantled and
that only science-based barriers were acceptable, it was clear that there is no
pushing for increased trade with a country like China will bring direct
benefits, not least of which, as it was highlighted on several occasions, is
the fact that developed countries have saturated markets and the EU and the US
are increasingly dependent on China for carcase valuation.
was no surprise then that China, host of this Congress on “Balanced Development
of Global Meat Production and Trade”, should be the centre of attention.
Because of its increasing share in the world’s meat demand, China is set to becoming
a major influencer in the global meat market. China’s meat demand already represents
about 40 per cent of overall global demand and will keep rising due to its
growing middle class, urbanisation and changing eating habits.
the Chinese meat industry cannot currently guarantee supply, in particular for
beef and sheep meat. Cattle and sheep herds are declining in China, as
significant restructuring is taking place and in the recent years the country has
been increasingly dependent on imports. Many Chinese delegates therefore highlighted
the importance of international trade, not only to meet the growing meat demand
but also to address the declining breeding stock. They advocated throughout the
Congress for an increased international cooperation, in particular for
assistance on food safety standards, a major concern in China – and asked that
their country increases its level of openness and tackles barriers to trade.
the last session of the Congress, Neil Fraser, chair of the FAO-led Global
Agenda for Sustainable Livestock initiative, picked up on the discussions on
international trade and cooperation. With the diversity of production systems
around the world, he concluded, there is no single answer to sustainability in
the livestock sector but a need for collective, global action.