Producers and traders are facing unprecedented challenges in meeting the increasing global demand for meat, mainly in emerging markets and developing countries, while having to reduce carbon footprints, deal with protectionist and regulatory pressures, and respond to the risks of antimicrobial resistance and animal diseases. But these developments also offer investment and trading opportunities to those actors who can rise to the challenges.
Rapid developments in technologies to produce alternatives to meat – in response to market pressures and societal concerns on producing and consuming meat – are starting to exert an impact on traditional markets. But they raise important questions on consumer acceptability and prices, environmental footprints, labelling and trade, regulations, and ethics.
The meat industry has been relentlessly attacked for its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, resource use, and animal welfare. But this view is often based on poor, selective evidence and data that does not consider the range of impacts and tradeoffs that constitute a sustainable future for the livestock and meat industries. In short, the reality across the globe is much more nuanced.
Research confirms the tangible business benefits of having a gender balanced company board and organic pipeline of talent. “Our industry is under siege at the moment and we need to be proactive in demonstrating we are a positive career destination and one which nurtures talent. What Meat Business Women has created is a positive global network which benefits our sector and, most importantly, is good news for the industry at an international level.”
Many people in the world are malnourished, either lacking sufficient calories and nutrients, or consuming too many calories through poor diets. Meat and livestock products provide a highly efficient source of nutrition, but red and processed meats have been (wrongfully) accused as contributing to bad health outcomes. Consumers are often confused as to what research and labelling can be relied on so that they can make informed food choices.
The future will be very challenging for the industry, especially on the many trade issues. Government policies, single-issue interest groups, social media and questionable evidence on the impact of livestock and meat production and consumption on the environment, animal care and human health are all exerting pressures requiring robust responses by the industry. But technology, innovation and good practice – grounded in sound science – have the potential for the industry to significantly contribute to feeding the world sustainably while addressing societal concerns. Let’s transform these challenges into opportunities.