Meat industry

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The term meat industry describes modern industrialized livestock agriculture for production, packing, preservation and marketing of meat (in contrast to dairy products, wool, etc.). In economics, it is a fusion of primary (agriculture) and secondary (industry) activity and hard to characterize strictly in terms of either one alone. The greater part of the entire meat industry is termed meat packing industry- the segment that handles the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock.

A great portion of the ever-growing[1] meat branch in the food industry involves intensive animal farming in which livestock are kept almost entirely indoors[2] or in restricted outdoor settings like pens.

Many aspects of the raising of animals for meat have become industrialized, even many practices more associated with smaller family farms, e.g. gourmet foods such as foie gras.[3][4]

The production of livestock is a heavily vertically integrated industry where the majority of supply chain stages is integrated and owned by one company.

Efficiency considerations[edit]

The livestock industry not only uses more land than any other human activity; it's also one of the largest contributors to water pollution and a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. In this respect, a relevant factor is the produced species' feed conversion efficiency. Additionally taking into account other factors like use of energy, pesticides, land, and nonrenewable resources, beef, lamb, goat, and bison as resources of red meat show the worst efficiency; poultry and eggs come out best. [5]

Meat sources[edit]

Estimated world livestock numbers (million head)[6]
type 1990 2000 2012 % change 1990-2012
Cattle and Buffaloes 1445 1467 1684 16.5
Pigs 849 856 966 13.8
Poultry 11788 16077 24075 104.2
Sheep and Goats 1795 1811 2165 20.6

Global players[edit]

The top ten of the international meat industry

Companies[edit]

Among the largest meat producers worldwide are:

See also: Meat Atlas

Countries[edit]

Beef[edit]

World 58,443,000[7]
Country metric tons (2015) % Of World
United States 10,861,000 18.58
Brazil 9,425,000 16.13
European Union 7,540,000 12.90
China 6,750,000 11.55
India 4,200,000 7.19
Argentina 2,740,000 4.69
Australia 2,550,000 4.36
Mexico 1,845,000 3.16
Pakistan 1,725,000 2.95
Russia 1,355,000 2.32

Criticism[edit]

Critical aspects of the effects of industrial meat production include

Many observers[who?] suggest that the expense of dealing with the above are grossly undercounted in present economic metrics and that true/full cost accounting would drastically raise the price[9] of industrial meat.[10][11][12][13]

Possible alternatives[edit]

Increasing health care costs for an aging baby boom population suffering from obesity and other food-related diseases, concerns about obesity in children have spurred new ideas about healthy nutrition with less emphasis on meat.[14][15][16][17][18]

See also: Meatless Monday

Native wild species like deer and bison in North America would be cheaper[19] and potentially have less impact on the environment.[20][21] The combination of more wild game meat options and higher costs for natural capital affected by the meat industry could be a building block towards a more sustainable livestock agriculture. A growing trend towards vegetarian or vegan diets and the Slow Food movement are indicators of a changing consumer conscience in western countries. Producers on the other hand have reacted to consumer concerns by slowly shifting towards ecological or organic farming.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Global Meat Production and Consumption Continue to Rise". Worldwatch Institute. 
  2. ^ Paul Ebner. "Modern Livestock Facilities". Purdue University. 
  3. ^ http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/ducks-geese/foie-gras/
  4. ^ http://www.foiegrasfarms.org/
  5. ^ Nina Rastogi. "The Kindest Cut - Which meat harms our planet the least?". slate. 
  6. ^ http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/themes/en/meat/backgr_sources.html
  7. ^ http://beef2live.com/story-world-beef-production-ranking-countries-0-106885
  8. ^ "Steroid Hormone Implants Used for Growth in Food-Producing Animals". FAO. 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/animal-production-marketing-issues/retail-meat-prices-price-spreads.aspx
  10. ^ "Food wastage footprint - Full cost accounting" (PDF). FAO. 2014. 
  11. ^ "Unfair fare: Why prices for meat from small local farms are too high". 
  12. ^ "Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food". TIME. 2009. 
  13. ^ "The Triple Whopper Environmental Impact of Global Meat Production". TIME. 2013. 
  14. ^ Joan Sabaté and Michelle Wien (2010). "Vegetarian diets and childhood obesity prevention". Am J Clin Nutr. American Society for Nutrition. 91 (5): 1525S–1529S. 
  15. ^ Y Wang and MA Beydoun (2009). "Meat consumption is associated with obesity and central obesity among US adults". Int J Obes (Lond). 33 (6): 621–628. doi:10.1038/ijo.2009.45. PMC 2697260free to read. 
  16. ^ "Meatless meals: The benefits of eating less meat". Mayo Clinic. 
  17. ^ "Should You Eat Less Meat?". 
  18. ^ "How to reduce your cancer risk and help the environment: Eat less red meat". CNN. 2015. 
  19. ^ "Hunting vs Buying Meat: The Traditional Hunter in the Modern World". harvestingnature.com. 2012. 
  20. ^ Kelsey Blackwell (2011). "Are bison the answer to sustainable meat?". 
  21. ^ Chris Helzer (2014). "Bison Good, Cattle Bad??". 


See also[edit]