People today are eating more food and consuming more calories than their grandparents did. The average person has access to about 3,800 calories per day, but 1,100 calories of that is typically lost to spoilage. Overall, however, the estimates are that people in the US are eating more than 500 calories than they should be every day.
The total amount of beef that is consumed in the US alone is estimated to be 25.5 billion pounds of animal protein.
Meat doesn’t just come from cattle. Pigs, goats, sheep, and even seafood all contribute to the meat supply. The economic impact of American eating habits provides more than $44 billion in gate receipts, but it also provides an export business that influences the rest of the world. Beef exports in 2014 were 5.6 billion pounds, for example, and Japan and Hong Kong were 2 of the top 5 export markets.
- The average American who is not practicing a vegetarian or vegan diet plan will consume an average of over 250 pounds of meat every year.
- 57 pounds. This is the average amount of meat that Americans eat that is more than what Americans ate in 1950.
- Poultry is the leading gainer in meat consumption. We’re eating 46 pounds of poultry more than our 1950s ancestors.
- Although meat consumption is higher, egg consumption is actually 33% lower in the average diet today than it was in the 1950s.
- More meat might be being eaten, but less saturated fat is being consumed today [26%] than it was in the 1950s [33%].
- Even though cattle inventory has dropped, the U.S. is still producing more beef now than in the 1970s. The average weight of a cow is 240 pounds heavier than it was in 1921.
- Total US meat consumption, including all sources: 52.2 billion pounds.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the United States is a nation of meat eaters. With only a few exceptions, there has been a large spike in the amount of meat that has been consumed since the Great Depression. The increase was at its largest in the 1990s when low inflation rates and low prices combined to make animal protein an affordable table option. As prices have increased over the past couple of years, the meat consumption rates for Americans has gone down by just a bit – about 3 billion pounds annually. The fact remains, however, that the US is one of the world leaders in meat consumption.
Who Is The #1 World Meat Consumer?
- The world average for meat consumption per person: 102.5 pounds per year.
- Residents in Luxembourg eat the most meat per person on average, consuming over 300 pounds of meat per year.
- Australia is in third place, just 0.2 pounds of meat consumption per person behind the US average of 270.7 pounds per person.
- In comparison, people living in India will average just 7.1 pounds of meat consumed every year.
- Americans have replaced beef with chicken as prices have begin to rise. Pork and turkey consumption has remained at relatively static levels since 1909.
Meat is more of a luxury item that many of us realize. It’s a food product that is typically only available to the wealthiest of countries or to the wealthy class that is living in any given country. There are certainly a lot of people in India, for example, that would love to have some extra meat in their diet, but they just can’t afford it. There are certainly some lifestyle differences that can be seen in these numbers, as some regular diets are vegetable heavy instead of meat heavy, but there is certainly a wealth factor involved in the meat consumption statistics that clearly stands out.
What Does it Take to Make a Hamburger?
- To get a quarter-pound hamburger, you are representing the need to feed a cow 6.7 pounds of feed over the course of its life.
- Including water to hydrate the animal and to grow the crop, 52.8 gallons of drinking water is required to produce a quarter-pound hamburger.
- Each quarter-pound of ground beef represents 74.5 square feet of farmland.
- It requires 1,036 btus of fossil fuel energy to produce that quarter-pound hamburger, which is enough energy to power a microwave for 18 minutes.
Eating meat is something that many people do, but we don’t always think about the actual costs of something as simple as a hamburger. We don’t think anything of plunking down $5 for a quarter-pound hamburger at a quick service restaurant, but the truth is that we are paying much more than that to eat meat. We are paying for farm subsidies, water rights, and fluctuating crop prices when we eat that hamburger as well. It might cost us $5 out of the pocket, but when tax season rolls around, we’re going to be paying for that hamburger a second time as well.
How Do People Eat Meat Around the World?
- Today, there are ten major meat producers around the globe, 4 of which are based in the United States.
- 2 of the top 3 sales producing meat producers are also in the United States, but not the #1 company in global sales. That honor lies with JBS in Brazil.
- There is expected to be an 80% growth in the demand for meat in the next decade because of the rising status of the middle class in the world’s two largest population centers: China and India.
- In the U.S. there was a 9% drop in meat consumption from 2007 to 2012.
- By 2020, China’s poultry production will increase 37% to help meet the additional 10 million tons of meat demands that are expected in India.
- In 2011, an estimated 58 trillion chickens were slaughtered around the world for food purposes.
The problems we’re seeing today in the world because of meat consumption are only going to get worse as more economies grow and stabilize. Demand is going to rise, even within cultures that honor livestock or have religious beliefs against eating certain animal proteins. By identifying what specific issues we’re going to face in the future, we’ll be able to meet the rising demand for food and create cultures that can sustain themselves. We need to act now on these statistics, however, to make sure we create a world that works for future generations.
Global Meat Consumption Rates Are Rising
- Over the past 50 years, global meat production has almost quadrupled from 78 million tons in 1963 to a current total of 308 million tons per year.
- As emerging cultures increase their wealth, the expectation is for them to adapt the burger and steak cultures of the developed nations, so meat consumption will continue to increase globally.
- The amount of calories that have been lost because fields must be dedicated to growing feed for animals is estimated to be enough to feed another 3.5 billion people.
- More than two thirds of the global agricultural area is used for permanent meadows and pastures.
- The FAO estimates that by 2050 global meat production will increase to 455 million tons.
- 80%. That’s the percentage of agricultural land that has been dedicated to the production of animal proteins encompassing all forms of livestock needs.
- 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing.
- In 2013, the cattle population reached 1,494 million animals, up 54% from 1963.
- The number of chickens grown for human consumption increased from 4.1 billion to 21.7 billion between 1963 and 2013.
- Nearly 60% of the world’s agricultural land is used for beef production, yet beef accounts for less than 2% of the calories that are consumed throughout the world.
- The livestock sector is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent, which is a higher percentage than total transport emissions.
As population levels rise, a movement of fear has begun that says the Earth doesn’t have enough resources to support the food levels that a population of 10 billion people requires. Yet, as these meat consumption statistics show, we’re essentially wasting a lot of land that could be used for more productive means. Without any new land resources, a shift in our eating habits would be enough to feed more than 3 billion extra people right now. Even a 10% reduction in grazing lands, with corresponding reductions in meat consumption, could produce more calories per person on a global scale. The truth is that we are slowly killing ourselves, our societies, and even the planet with our desire to eat higher levels of animal protein. This isn’t to advocate a 100% vegetarian diet for everyone. It is to say that we each need to be more responsible about our eating habits.