With meat, milk, and egg prices reaching record levels, consumers already experiencing the effects of growing population and increasing affluence at the checkout counter.
To study the effects of a growing population, Elanco created the Global Food Forward Analysis, a model which has been validated by Informa Economics and Global AgriTrends.
Using the model, Elanco's latest report reviewed future demand for pork –the most widely consumed meat in the world – finding that the world will need 50% more pork by 2050.
Unlike milk and eggs, availability of pork per person has doubled since 1961 from 5.4 oz to 10.7 oz per week. By 2050, the analysis shows we will need about 1 more ounce per person per week to meet global demand. That means the industry will need to increase production by 61 million tons to total 179 million tons.
"Our research shows that pork producers are making great strides in production efficiency. In fact, the industry can meet future demand on fewer resources than were used in 2010," said Rob Aukerman, president of U.S. Operations for Elanco.
It requires the right approach, says Aukerman – acceptance of innovation and best practices, and the ability to bring new technologies and practices to the market.
"Otherwise, this story could go the other way," he says.
Today, 1.38 billion pigs are raised globally. Without additional access to innovation, the industry would need to add 710 million more pigs to provide consumers the 12 oz of pork they will expect each week in 2050. This approach would also require about a 50% increase in resource use.
But with expanded access to innovation, farmers can produce 50% more pork with only 1.7 billion pigs and fewer resources than they currently use, annually saving 484 million tons of feed, 262 million acres and 260 billion gallons of water.
With the global population already overusing Earth's resources, these are critical savings that must be achieved, Elanco says, but it means supporting policies and practices that allow producers to optimize efficient production.
Today, the average pig grows to 229 lbs. in 38.6 weeks. Leading producers are raising pigs that are 44 lbs. heavier and far more efficient, reaching market weight about 70 days earlier. To achieve future needs, the new research shows pigs will need to be 9 lbs heavier than today's leaders and reach that weight about 3 weeks earlier.
"With a growing global population and increasing demand for meat, milk and eggs, our industry must continue to innovate and bring novel, safe technology to the market that will help producers deliver more pork in a sustainable way," Aukerman said.