The Economics of Meat Consumption

As concerns over the huge impact on the environment, human health and animal welfare grow, what does the future hold for the meat industry?  Food and farming are one of the biggest economic sectors in the world,  farming still employs more than 26% of all workers globally. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states that livestock is about 40% of the global value of agricultural output and supports the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people. Since the introduction of factory farms for chickens, pigs, and cattle, which aimed to breed animals to grow more quickly and get fatter, the average time to market for a US chicken from 1925 to now has been reduced from 112 days to 48 days, while its weight has gone up from 2.5 pounds to 6.2. 

What are the environmental impacts? - On some estimates farming accounts for about 70% of water used in the world today, but a 2013 study found that it uses up to 92% of our freshwater, with nearly one-third of that related to animal products. In addition, water pollution, land-use and deforestation are also claimed to be direct environmental impacts of farm animal production. A 2017 landmark study found that the top three meat-producing firms – JBS, Cargill and Tyson – emitted more greenhouse gases in 2016 than all of France. 

Companies mentioned (YTD): Tyson (-14%)


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