Meat Consumption and National Power
Meat Consumption and National Power
By Sonnet Gomes
How Meat Consumption is related to the Might of an Economy
The amount of meat a nation consumes tells a lot about its overall economic strength. My mother used to say to me “too much meat won’t make you fit”. It looks like the same does not go with the world economy. It’s not only the defense budget but also meat consumption that can be an indicator of a nation’s economic strength.
The world is Becoming a Meaty Place
According to FAO, average worldwide meat consumption per capita in 1964/66 was 24.2-kg that hiked up to 41.3 in 2015. Industrial nations consumed 61.5-kg in 1964/66. That number soared to 95.7 in 2015 and is expected to reach 100 in 2030. The change for the transition countries is also huge. Starting from 42.5-kg in 1964/66 it is expected to reach 53.8 in 2030.
Africa is not following the Trend that Closely
You will find a stark contrast in Africa. The regions started with a figure little less than 12-kg in the early 60s’ but never crossed the 30-kg mark. Sub-Saharan Africa has a grimmer picture with only a kilogram increase in average consumption since 1966.
North Africa has a much better picture. One of the main reasons is its proximity to Europe. The western influences have a significant impact on the North African economy that eventually affect meat consumption or vice versa.
Europe in the Runner Up position
Post World War II Europe was in a boom of both economic and technological development. Both boiled down to the rise in meat consumption. Per capita meat supply in 1966 was around 58-kg. Up to 1980, the surge was staggering. Despite a few ups and downs due to economic and political turmoil, the growth was slow but steady. According to FAO, every European ended up consuming around 82-kg of meat in 2013.
North America is and was the Exception
There is only one region that has seen little or no decline in meat consumption. Yes, you guessed it correctly-North America. The economic boom was on a much bigger scale in North America than Europe after the end of the Second World War. That is reflected in the meat consumption. Starting with an astronomical 95-kg per person, the regional meat consumption rose to 113-kg in 2013. However, the numbers have begun to slump a bit since 2007 due to the introduction of the health-conscious lifestyle based on an organic and vegan diet.
Asia, the story of Iconic Irony
Now let face towards the grimmest correlation between economic development and meat consumption. A particular part of Asia is showing a correlation that is neither good for health nor the economy. Average per capita meat consumption was below 10-kg in 1966 that reached to around 43-kg in 2013.
However, do not think it is the overall picture of the region. South Asia is the last in the position. This meat-eating journey of this region was at 4-kg and reached only 7.6-kg in 2015. This is perhaps the only region where the correlation between economic growth and meat consumption shouldn’t work that precisely because the majority of the population relies on a vegan diet.
The irony is since 1992, Asia is the biggest meat producer in the world when the people of this region are among the least meat consumers.
The recent rise of India and Bangladesh in the different business and production sectors will make you believe this anomalous result. However, the GDP per capita of these countries are actually following the rationale between meat consumption and economic might.
GDP and Meat Supply tells everything
This graph-based on 2017 meat supply and GDP per capita data will establish the fact with more confidence that rich countries consume more meat. It looks like the threshold lies in 30-kg annual supply and $7000 per capita GDP. After this point, both the GDP and resultant meat consumption started to rise rapidly.
Multiple factors influence the correlation between consuming meat and economic strength of a nation. They include industrial development, technological advancement, and a better balance between supply and demand. All of these influenced the lifestyle and food habit of the citizens of economically developed nations who consume more meat than less affluent.
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