And what this could mean for the future of New Zealand meat and dairy.
It’s estimated there will be 10 billion people on this planet in 30 years. If we don’t change the way we eat, meat production will need to increase. New Zealand supplies the world with meat and dairy (animal-based protein), with the export revenue heavily contributing to the small country’s economy.
But recent changes in societal values point a spotlight at traditional animal agriculture, revealing the negative impacts of the practice. Many consumers have begun to look for alternative protein sources. Alternative proteins have the potential to greatly disrupt the global meat industry and New Zealand’s role in this.
Approaching twenty fifty.
In 30 years the world's population is estimated to reach 10 billion people.
To feed 10 billion people, global meat production would need to double to 470 million tonnes.
NEW ZEALAND RELIES HEAVILY ON AGRICULTURE
The New Zealand economy depends on trade with other countries.
Meat and dairy contribute over half of export earnings.
If the global agricultural industry was ever disrupted, New Zealand's economy would be in trouble.
The impact of agriculture.
As animal agriculture intensifies, concerns grow around the impact of the practice on the climate, environment, our health, and animal welfare.
Livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
But the majority of New Zealanders live in cities and have little or no contact with agriculture.
This rural-urban divide impacts national decisions when the nation’s bills are paid for by farmers.
Land cleared for animal pasture allows the soil less protection from rain than trees, increasing the risk of erosion.
Fertilizers are applied to supplement nutrients naturally found in soil.
Increasing fertilizer use, soil erosion, and livestock numbers pollute streams creating serious downstream environmental impacts.
Antibiotics are widely used in agriculture (to stop animals getting sick or to speed up growth) but there are concerns genes for antibiotic resistance are developing due to their overuse.
The United Nations has elevated this health issue to crisis level, calling antibiotic resistance a “fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production, and development.”
Animal proteins are under a cultural spotlight but globally people have different definitions of animal welfare.
In general, there are differences in how people define animal welfare.
The animal welfare movement has the potential for global social change but it is in different stages of development across countries.