Consumption of animal protein will “level off” in high-income countries over the next 10 years, according to a new report.

The report – OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2021-2030 – is a collaborative effort of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

It highlights fundamental economic and social trends that will drive the global agri-food sector, assuming no major changes to weather conditions or policies.

Consumption of animal protein ‘to level off’

The global agri-food sector has shown resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic, but income losses and food price spikes caused undernourishment to rise, the report states.

The challenges of eradicating hunger will vary among countries.

According to the outlook, average global food availability per person is projected to grow by 4% over the next 10 years, reaching just over 3,025kcal/day in 2030.

Consumers in middle-income countries are projected to increase their food intake most significantly, while diets in low income countries will remain largely unchanged.

Some dietary changes are anticipated in the coming decade. In high-income countries, per capita consumption of animal protein is expected to level off.

Due to growing health and environmental concerns, per capita meat consumption is not expected to increase and consumers will increasingly replace red meat with poultry and dairy products.

In middle-income countries, the preference for livestock products and fish is expected to remain strong and per capita availability of animal protein is projected to increase by 11%, narrowing the consumption gap with high-income countries by 4% to 30g per person per day in 2030.

Feed efficiency and disease outbreaks

The outlook highlights the important influence of feed efficiency and disease outbreaks on future trends in animal production and agricultural markets.

Lower projected growth in livestock production and improved feeding efficiency in high-income countries and some emerging economies should result in slower growth in feed demand compared to last decade.

By contrast, several low and middle-income countries will experience strong growth in feed demand over the coming decade, as their livestock sectors expand and intensify.

The development of animal husbandry in the People’s Republic of China (China), the world’s largest feed consumer, will be central to the development of the global feed markets.

Following the outbreak of the African Swine Fever (ASF), China started to rebuild and restructure its pig herd in 2020, which is assumed to have little net effect on the average feed use per unit of livestock product.

Regional outlook: Europe and Central Asia

In the region of Europe and Central Asia specifically, “long-term decline in agricultural land use” is expected to continue into the future – albeit slowly – suggesting that further growth in the sector “will be underpinned by productivity gains”.

In relation to changes in land use, direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to decline 1.2% over the next decade.

The value of crop production in the region is expected to expand by 11% over the next 10 years, accounting for almost 75% of the region’s growth in agricultural and fish production.

Livestock production growth is slower at 0.34% per annum over the next decade.

Western Europe accounts for the bulk of livestock value in the region, but as the transition to environmental sustainability continues, a minor contraction over the coming decade will see its share diminish from 64% to 61% by 2030.

Stronger growth in the rest of the region still sees the total value of livestock production expand by 4% over the 10-year period, however.

Across the region, domestic food demand for dairy products will remain strong, contributing 12% of daily calorie intake by 2030 and 19% towards daily protein availability.

Shaped by the transition towards environmental sustainability, the EU’s share of global milk production will decline to 16% by 2030.

Consumption habits

Per capita meat consumption in Europe and Central Asia may rise slightly to 59kg/capita per year, largely due to higher poultry meat consumption, which is anticipated to be the fastest growing meat item, reaching 24kg per capita.

Bovine and pig meat consumption per capita is anticipated to decline over the period, by 2.2% and 2.5% respectively.

Dairy product consumption is expected to rise faster than meats, adding 8% to current levels by 2030.

Owed largely to the importance of animal products, the region consumes almost a quarter of global protein feed.

With slower growth projected for the livestock sector – which includes a positive contribution for poultry and sheep meat, but declining pig meat and bovine sectors – feed use is anticipated to increase only 4% by 2030.