Most Consumed Meat In The World: It’s Not What You Think

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This Article was Reviewed by The Chief Editor, Godfrey

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Reviewed by Soliu.

The most consumed meat in the world is pork, with its widespread availability and cultural significance in many countries contributing to its popularity.

Do you believe that animals are victims of human greed and necessity? 

Whatever school of thought you believe in, the truth remains that this has been the case since the beginning of human history. 

Has the amount of meat we eat become excessive, though?

With millions of tonnes of meat consumed annually, human meat consumption has increased substantially over time.

This blog post will share facts about the world’s most consumed meat in 2024. 

Most Consumed Meat In The World

Top 10 Most Enlightening Facts

While this blog post is about sharing with you what the most consumed meat is before we dive in properly, let’s look through these facts;

  • According to statistics, chicken accounts for 35% of all meat produced worldwide.
  • Pigmeat is the second most consumed meat worldwide. By 2030, pigmeat output is expected to increase to 127 million tonnes.
  • Worldwide, the third-highest meat consumed comes from cattle. In 2020, 337 million tonnes of this meat were produced. 
  • During Thanksgiving, Americans consume nearly 46 million turkeys. From 2019 to 2021, the world’s per capita meat consumption was 34.1 kg. 

According to statistics, the meat industry is valued at $961.17 billion in 2022.

With an annual meat consumption per capita of 219 pounds, America leads the world.

With a per capita consumption of 98.9 pounds, broilers are the most popular meat in the US.

Consumption of Meat Around the World

Most Consumed Meat In The World

Over several decades, there has been a consistent rise in the amount of meat that is consumed worldwide. 

Several factors have contributed to this trend, including the increasing population, the rising incomes in developing countries, and the changes in dietary preferences. 

Consequently, there has been a significant increase in the global demand for meat, which has resulted in the rise of the meat business. 

According to a survey by The Statesman, the estimated yearly meat consumption worldwide hit 346.14 million tonnes in 2018. 

The projections indicate that this number will climb to 453 million tonnes by the year 2030, which would represent a 24% increase from the current level. 

The future demand for meat worldwide is questionable; estimates range from 375 million tonnes to 570 million tonnes by 2050. 

Compared to the levels in the year 2000, this potential growth indicates an increase of between 70 and 160 percent.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently released its report on the global food markets, published every two years. 

According to the analysis, the total expenditure on food worldwide is anticipated to reach $1.98 trillion in the year 2024, representing a growth of 1.5% compared to the previous year.

A marginal increase from the 362.6 million tonnes recorded in the previous year, the estimated worldwide meat output for 2024 is expected to witness a minor climb to 363.9 million tonnes of carcass weight equivalent. 

This represents a slight increase from the previous year’s average.

Pork Still Maintaining Its Place As The Most Consumed Meat in the World

Most Consumed Meat In The World

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN-FAO), the most consumed animal in the world is pork, the flesh of hogs or domestic swine.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies pork as red meat even though it is almost universally considered a slice of white meat. 

The following are the two primary causes behind this: A pig has a somewhat pinkish or reddish hue because it contains a higher concentration of myoglobin than poultry and fish.

In the second place, pigs, cattle, and lamb are classified as livestock; everything classified as livestock is called red meat.

Animals between six and seven months old are typically used to produce pork. Ham, bacon, and sausage are all pork derivatives that have been cured. 

A term used to describe uncured meat is “fresh pork.” Feijoada, the national cuisine of Brazil, is typically cooked with hog trimmings such as ears, tail, and feet. Jamón, the most famous pork dish in Spain, is made with the rear legs of a pig. 

Other examples include feijoada, which is Brazil’s national food.

In the Middle East, the domestication of pigs, also known as young hogs, to provide food dates back to the year 7000 BCE. 

The earliest pork recipe that survived is at least two thousand years old, originally from China. Wild boar, the ancestor of the hog, was consumed by people living in the Stone Age.

At the end of the year 2020, China was the country that produced the most pork, followed by the European Union and the United States combined. 

Most Consumed Meat In The World

Out of the total pork output in the globe, these countries were responsible for around 76% of it. Pork is considered to be of such great significance in China that the country has established a “strategic pork reserve.” 

China makes use of this reserve to exert control over supply and prices, particularly in situations such as the African swine flu outbreak that occurred in 2018, which resulted in the death of forty percent of China’s pig herd.

How Poultry is Taking Over As The Most Consumed Meat in the World

Since 2000, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reports that chicken meat has witnessed fantastic growth in absolute and relative terms, with a stunning gain of 104 percent or 61 million tonnes.

 As a result of this growth, chicken meat became the most-produced type in 2020, accounting for 35 percent of the total production worldwide.

Therefore, you add to the most outstanding amount of meat consumed worldwide each time you consume chicken nuggets, wings, drumsticks, or crispy chicken.

The people consumed more turkey, chicken, duck, and pheasants than they ever had before during the COVID-19 epidemic, which caused the world to go into lockdown. This led to fowl being the most extensively consumed type of meat.

Your question is, why did poultry meat become so popular? The explanation is most likely due to an outbreak of African Swine Fever that extended throughout several Asian countries and wiped out populations of pigs, hence reducing the amount of pork that was accessible. 

Chicken has surpassed beef and pork as the most popular meat in the world in the century since the birth of the modern chicken business. 

According to a report published last month by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, that trend is anticipated to accelerate rapidly in the decade ahead. 

This trend will have enormous implications for climate change, animal welfare, and economic development. 

According to the analysis, the number of chickens raised and slaughtered by humanity each year is now staggering at 74 billion. Still, it is projected to climb to almost 85 billion annually by 2032, representing a 15 percent increase. 

When compared, the number of pigs and beef cattle that are raised to produce meat is expected to increase to around 1.5 billion and 365 million, respectively, by the year 2032.

What Kind of Meat is Chicken?

Most Consumed Meat In The World

As a result of simple economics, the global trend away from red meat and towards white meat can be partially explained. 

Compared to pigs and cattle, chickens can turn grain into meat more effectively, and as a result, they are produced at a lower cost. 

Combined with the stagnation of wages worldwide, inflation has caused individuals to seek out cheaper meats.

The health of consumers and the environment are also on the minds of governments and policymakers. 

Although the production of chicken and fish is highly harmful to the environment, the carbon footprint of poultry and fish is far lower than that of red meat. 

This is even though poultry and fish are healthier than hog and beef. In most cases, the amount of saturated fat in red meat is higher than that of skinless chicken. 

Choosing skinless chicken and lean meat, such as lean ground chicken, “choice” or “select” cuts of meat, and extra lean ground beef, is something that the American Heart Association encourages.

Facts About Meat Consumption

More facts about meat intake, which are practically mind-blowing, are shown below.

Most Consumed Meat In The World

As of 2024, the annual meat production globally is estimated to exceed 350 million metric tonnes (OECD).

Our World in Data reported that 340 million tonnes of meat are consumed by humans worldwide, which is more than four times the quantity that we consumed in 1961. 

This is a result of the fact that the production of meat on a global scale has been increasing with each passing year. 

Nevertheless, the most recent statistics from 2023 indicate that the world produces approximately 350.5 million metric tonnes of beef.

According to The World Counts, meat consumption has increased by a factor of two in the past thirty years.

A study conducted by The World Counts found that meat consumption increased by a factor of two between 1988 and 2018, and there are no indications that this trend will soon diminish.

Consumption of meat on a global scale is projected to range between 460 million and 570 million tonnes by the year 2050, according to The World Counts statistics.

Global beef production was estimated to reach 337.18 million tonnes by 2020, up from 70.57 million tonnes in 1961.

Specialists have anticipated that meat consumption on a global scale might reach 570 million tonnes in the next 27 years, more than eight times the quantity that the globe made in 1961. 

From 2019 to 2021, the average level of meat consumption globally was 34.1 kilograms per person (OECD, FAO).

Do you believe that you consume a certain amount of meat annually? It is estimated that the average number of kilograms per person is 34.1.

Although you may consume a significantly more than that, it is essential to remember that over 690 million people live in extreme poverty and cannot purchase meat, ultimately decreasing the mean average meat consumption.

Conclusion: Most Consumed Meat In The World

Over the years, it is undeniable that meat consumption has substantially expanded, with chicken currently becoming the most consumed meat globally. 

Several issues, including worries about the environment, health, and cost-efficiency, drive this transition towards poultry.

The data also suggests that the production and consumption of meat are continuing to increase, with forecasts showing that the amount of meat produced and consumed might reach between 460 million and 570 million tonnes by the year 2050. 

This trend has repercussions for many different sectors of society, such as the well-being of animals, the welfare of the environment, and the development of the economy.

It is of the utmost importance to be conscious of eating meat and its effects on both persons and the earth. 

Even though meat is an important source of protein for many people, it is essential to consume it in moderation and to produce it responsibly to meet the issues related to the growing demand for it.

 

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About the Chief Editor

Godfrey Ogbo, the Chief Editor and CEO of AtlanticRide, merges his environmental management expertise with extensive business experience, including in real estate. With a master's degree and a knack for engaging writing, he adeptly covers complex growth and business topics. His analytical approach and business insights enrich the blog, making it a go-to source for readers seeking thoughtful and informed content.

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