According to a recent study by the prestigious American consulting firm A.T. Kearney, by 2040 cultivated meat will represent 35% of global meat consumption, coexisting with the traditional meat industry as it is a viable alternative to the problem of sustainable food production on a global scale.
Based on the latest UN population projections, by 2040 the planet is expected to have reached a population of 9 billion people. In an era of anxiety about climate change and the planet’s resources, feeding future generations becomes a concern for everyone.
The latest data provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that almost half of the world’s harvest is now used to feed livestock, which currently comprises 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs, 20 billion poultry and 1.9 billion sheep and goats, while agricultural production for human consumption alone accounts for 37% of the total. These figures indicate the current unsustainability of a food industry whose goal is to anticipate the demands of growing populations without threatening the viability of the planet’s assets.
Changing consumer habits: a challenge for the food industry
The conventional meat industry currently represents 90% of the market share: it has an annual volume of more than one billion dollars. But behind these figures, we find an ecologically unsustainable system that seeks in biotechnological innovation the way to be able to combine livestock and ecological well-being for future generations.
It is at this point of the equation that the figures from the livestock industry about its environmental footprint are shocking for a society that is very aware of climate change. According to figures provided by BioScience magazine and the American Oil Chemists’ Society, to produce one pound of beef would involve the use of 9,500 litres of water and 7kg of grain, a significant waste of the Earth’s natural resources. Farmland and the expected population increase in the coming decades also fit into this equation, since according to the latest statistics, a global reduction in the land available for cultivation is expected, from 0.38 hectares per capita in 1970 to around 0.15 hectares per capita of farmland projected for 2050.
In conclusion, we face a demographic situation in which not only will there be more people on earth in the next 30 years, but that population increase will have the added challenge of having to supply the population with less land available for agriculture.