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Global food consumption growth and changes in consumer preferences

Income growth and changes in consumer preferences have resulted in a consumption increase of products of higher value (such as meat and dairy products) in emerging economies.

Tuesday 24 September 2019 (2 months 20 days ago)
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Due to two major developments in the past two decades at a global level - income growth and changes in consumer preferences -, food consumption has been growing at a faster pace than world population. These developments have resulted in a consumption increase of products of higher value (such as meat and dairy products) in emerging economies. In parallel, rising societal and environmental concerns in developed economies have influenced consumer preferences, leading to lower red meat consumption for example. These are among the main findings of the ‘Global food supply and demand, consumer trends and trade challenges’ market brief, published today by the Commission.

The EU is by far the largest consumer of pigmeat, as its preferred meat, with a consumption above 40 kg per capita. It is followed by North America at below 30kg per capita. Pork is also the favoured meat in Asia, where it should reach 15 kg per capita by 2020. In Africa on the other hand, pork is not traditionally eaten.

Less than 8% of global production is traded and more than 80% of exports originate from North America and the EU. In both regions, stability and more recently a slight decrease of consumption, together with higher production, led to an increase of their surplus, reaching 30% of use in North America and 12% in the EU. In South America, its surplus declined to below 10% during the current decade, mainly due to the rise in domestic consumption. Thanks to a significant increase in production in recent years, the deficit of the Black Sea (and more specifically of Russia) declined. The effect of the African Swine Fever (ASF) is not accounted in the OECD-FAO outlook published in 2019. The ASF outbreak in Asia led to a significant drop in production (and consumption), as well as higher imports in the region and more particularly in China. However, even without this event, the long-term trend indicated an increasing deficit. The upgrade of production systems (from traditional backyard production to larger scale production) did not take place rapidly enough to respond to the demand push. ASF will most probably accelerate this adaptation.

Regarding wheat, the EU is the second largest global user with around 250 kg per capita, after the Black Sea region. EU consumption has been growing steadily over time, driven mainly by the development of the livestock sector due to the use of wheat in animal feed. Four regions supply the world with wheat: the EU, the Black Sea region, North America and Oceania. The EU is a major wheat exporter, trading up to 20% of its use.

North America is by far the largest user of maize, reaching almost 900 kg per capita, significantly above use in South America at 240 kg per capita and the EU at 140 kg per capita. The substantial global increase in maize is linked to the expansion of livestock production and more recently to the production of maize-based ethanol. With almost 15% of global maize production traded, the main suppliers are South and North America followed by the Black Sea region. In contrast, the EU is the biggest maize importer, with close to 25 million tonnes of imported maize in 2018/2019.

As soya bean, it is a crop mainly produced and traded by the Americas. They represent 82% of production. At a global level, two thirds of availability is crushed into meals to be used in feed. The EU is the main destination market for soya meals, representing 30% of world trade. However EU import needs are declining by using alternative sources such as cereals and more recently pulses.

Tuesday September 10, 2019/ DG Agri/ European Union.
https://ec.europa.eu/

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