FAO index page AG index page
Print this page | Close

Meat Consumption

Meat can be part of a balanced diet contributing valuable nutrients that are beneficial to health. Meat and meat products contain important levels of protein, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients which are essential for growth and development. Further processing of meat offers the opportunity to add value, reduce prices, improve food safety and extend the shelf-life. This can result in increased household income and improved nutrition. While the per caput consumption of meat in some industrialized countries is high, per caput consumption below 10 kg in developing countries must be considered insufficient and often leads to under-nourishment and malnutrition. It is also estimated that more than 2 billion people in the world are deficient in key vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc. Deficiencies occur when people have limited access to micronutrient-rich foods such as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. Most people with micronutrient deficiencies live in low income countries and are typically deficient in more than one micronutrient. Highly nutritious foods such as meat are particularly required for HIV AIDS infected communities and also for women and children.


World meat markets at a glance
(FAO World Food Outlook 2008)



2007 estim.

2008 f'cast

Change: 2008 over 2007


million tonnes %
Production 271.5 274.7 280.9 2.3

Bovine meat

65.7 67.2 68.0 1.1

Poultry meat

85.4 89.5 92.9 3.8

Pig meat

101.7 98.8 100.6 1.8

Ovine meat

13.3 13.7 14.0 2.0
Trade 21.4 22.5 23.1 3.0

Bovine meat

6.8 7.1 7.2 1.0


8.5 9.2 9.6 4.3

Pig meat

5.0 5.0 5.3 5.2

Ovine meat

0.8 0.9 0.8 -5.9
Per caput food consumption (kg/year):
World 41.6 41.6 42.1 1.1
Developed 81.1 82.4 82.9 0.7
Developing 30.7 30.5 31.1 1.8
FAO Meat Price Index


2006 2007 2008 Change:
Jan-Apr 2008

Jan-Apr 2007


115 121 131* 10%

* Jan-Apr 2008


To effectively combat such malnutrition and under-nourishment, 20 g of animal protein per person per day or 7.3 kg per year should be provided. This can be achieved by an annual consumption of 33 kg lean meat or 45 kg fish or 60 kg eggs or 230 kg milk, respectively. These sources are usually combined in the daily food intake, but in regions where not all of them are readily available, intake of the others needs to be increased. Although nutrients from animals may be of higher quality or more readily absorbed than vegetable sources, it is possible to have a healthy vegetarian diet.

The steadily growing world population and increasing incomes creates higher demand for meat, but at the same time leaves limited space for expansion in livestock production. Therefore the maximum utilization of existing food resources becomes even more important. Poultry meat is of growing importance to meet this demand.

The FAO programme in meat and meat products aims to assist the member countries in exploiting the opportunities for livestock development and poverty alleviation through the promotion of safe and efficient production, processing and marketing of meat and meat products.