Title: The Future of Beef
Meat demand is likely to increase by approximately 50-75% based on current consumption trends, since the global human population is increasing to reach more than 9 billion by the year 2050. In addition, consumers are more and more concerned by issues related to livestock production systems, animal welfare or climate change. In response, different options have been proposed, since a few years, to satisfy these challenges.
Beef quality includes intrinsic (e.g. safety, palatability, healthiness) and extrinsic traits (e.g. animal health and welfare, environmental impacts). Concerns for extrinsic traits is increasing. In this context, “cultured meat” is advertised as a good alternative for consumers who want to be more responsible. However, the control of its safety and of its nutritional composition is still unclear, especially for micronutrients. Regarding environmental issues, the potential advantages of “cultured meat” related to greenhouse gas emissions are a matter of controversy.
Alternatively, improving existing livestock management to have more eco- and animal-friendly systems is a key issue. This approach is based on different principles including decreasing the inputs needed for production, optimising the functioning of farming systems, adopting management practices to improve animal health and to preserve biological diversity and also enhancing diversity within livestock systems to strengthen their resilience. In addition, the urbanisation of human beings, further and further away from rural culture, has brought about a decrease in knowledge and acceptance of meat production, making people also less able to express a critical and informed view about livestock. Consequently, a better communication to consumers about meat production should be more objective and well-balanced.
In conclusion, the future market of meat will rely on new farming systems based on the principles of agroecology. We should also change our view on livestock production, reduce food waste and loses, and have better consumption habits.
Dr JF HOCQUETTE is studying muscle biology and beef quality. He was leader of the research team “Muscle Growth and Metabolism”, and of the Herbivore Research Unit. He worked for the French High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education, the International Meat Research 3G Foundation and the European Federation of Animal Science. He is Editor of the French Meat R&D journal. He got awards from the French Meat Academy and the American Society of Animal Science (2014 Animal Growth and Development and 2021 Meats Awards). He will organize the World Congress of Animal Science in Lyon in 2023.