Future of Meat -Western Focus On Health and Growing Asian Appetite Towards Meat

Meat alternatives are all the craze in Western countries. While enthusiasm for meat remains high, what was once a tiny niche has gain traction in the modern, increasingly health and environment-conscious market.

Major players have either look at incorporating meat alternatives or already doing it. However, with the cost dropping as the volume increases, meat producers might find it more challenging to grow their Western countries’ markets.

On the contrary, Asia will be the largest meat importing region in the next five years, overtaking Europe and the US. Over the past decade, global meat imports only grew by 10%. In contrast, meat imports to Asia grew by over 45%.  

The growth trajectory shows a clear indication of a gap in meat supply-demand in Asia relative to the rest of the world. However, this opposite trend shows an opportunity in the global meat trade, rising from the gap in meat supply demand across the two regions.

future of meat_1
Source: OECD and Ipsos Analysis

Looking at the meat consumption forecast, we can notice that the demand from developed countries is having a flat trajectory while developing countries have an inclining trajectory set to have a larger share from overall meat consumption. The foreseeable changes are driven by both the difference in population growth as well as a forecasted increase in per capita meat consumption in developing countries. 

Data and forecast show that developing regions will see 97% of the world’s population growth of 1.2 billion people between 2013 and 2030, implying that aggregate consumption of meat will be on a continuous upward trajectory in the developing countries, driven by population and income increases. The situation is in contrast with developed countries that have stagnant population and income growth.

Concentrated Exporter and Importer

growth of meat production by region and meat type

Global meat trade (excluding live animals and processed products) is projected to be nearly 12% higher in 2029 than in 2020.  Major meat exporters will be even more concentrated, with the combined share of the meat export market for the US, EU and Brazil projected to be more than  60% of global meat export in 2029.

The import, however, will be mainly led by Asia and Africa as the consumption growth in these regions will dramatically outpace the domestic production capacity. The gap results in a rapid increase in Import demand, in terms of annual growth rates, in the Sub Saharan Africa region, which has been growing by more than 5% in the last five years and will increase by at least 4% annually for the next ten years. On the other hand, the highest volume growth is expected from the Asia region, which seen a USD 8 Bn dollar growth of meat import annually in 2019 and is expected to hit USD 10 Bn annual import in the next 1-2 years.

East Craves What Was Once A Dream!

source : data.worldbank.org

Income levels and economic growth are critical indicators in predicting the meat demand dynamic. Countries undergoing development with a burgeoning middle class usually show a higher meat consumption growth in consequence.

Asia’s GDP showed strong growth over the past ten years, overtaking Europe in 2015 and the USA in 2018.  The improvement in the economic situation and associated development in wealth demonstrate the way towards a future when most can afford meat. This corresponding increase in purchasing power affected Asians’ food consumption pattern and diet, but at the same time, demand for meat alternatives is hardly imminent.

Asia’s Voracious Appetite for Meat

Keen appetites for imported meat in Asia saw volume rise by nearly 50% over the past five years. This trend is apparent in China and countries such as Japan and South Korea. As other Asian countries continue to grow and develop, they will also follow the direction that drove tremendous growth in meat demand, eventually outpace the local production capabilities growth. 

For China, the domestic demand for meat has increased significantly while the domestic production capacity struggles to keep up. This mismatch in production capacity and local market demand has resulted in the requirement to double the meat imports from major exporting countries such as the US and Australia over the past five years to address the shortfall.

Emerging countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam are also showcasing the trend of increasing meat consumption has already been identified in the last five years, coupled with a significant increase in meat import, resulting in impending Increasing import as the local capability to fulfill demands seems inadequate.

Asia Meat import Value by Country
source : uncomtrade

Future of Meat Consumption

Meat Consumption CAGR Forecast, 2020-2029

Over the next ten years, four notable countries will be showing the highest projected meat consumption growth, namely China, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam.

As the increasing import of meat is inevitable for these countries, this region is set to drive further meat trade towards the East and Southeast Asia Region even for the next ten years.

Notably, none of the developed countries is expected to show a forecasted CAGR of more than 1% on their meat consumption over the next ten years.

Western Countries : Health Concerns Eclipse Carnivorous Habits, Looking At Other Options!

In contrast, Western consumer preference for ‘flexitarian’ or vegan diets has shown a marked increase forming part of a pattern where the increasing overall market preference for ‘natural’/cruelty free food products adversely affects meat demand.

The avid pursuit of a ‘healthy’ lifestyle has resulted in many in the Western world giving up or cutting down on real meat in favor of plant-based alternatives.   Initially, the price and flavor of plant-based meat were expected to become its major barrier; however, the prediction stands corrected as global demand continues to rise at a fast pace. Major reputable companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Food adroitly are using fast-food chains (i.e., McDonald’s) to familiarize the consumers and popularize their products.

Meat Replacement Global Market Value, in Billion US Dollar

Globally, the meat alternatives market is expected to grow at 15.8% annually over the next five years, outpacing the growth rates of global meat consumption – which is expected to grow at 1.4% from 2021 onward.

Challenge Moving Forward

The imbalance of supply-demand of meat in the two regions, in theory, should complement each other. However, two key factors are posing significant challenges in the trade between the regions. One of them is the cost of products that are generally produced in developed countries, which might not match the destination country’s purchasing power, which generally is developing countries. 

The other notable challenge is the logistical issue in developing countries that tend to have subpar cold supply chain capability necessary to move perishable food such as meat.

Key Takeaway

The implication to International Trader

  • The Asian countries, especially the developing ones, are the future prime market for meat and meat products. Western countries, while still have significant meat demand, are moving on towards “meat-alternatives“.
  • Traders can secure supply from the western countries which have a surplus of meat production, moving the product from a surplus area to the on-demand area through identifying the right source and market destination-pattern(s).  
  • Robust pricing strategies and careful selection of the types of meat/meat product is required to adjust with target market characteristics.
  • Emerging economies in Asia will follow the trend of a sharp increase in meat consumption shown in Asia’s developed economies such as China, Japan, and Korea as well as SEA countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam.
  • Meat demand growth normalized in Western countries, resulting in oversupply while Asia will in general face a short supply of meat.
  • Meat self-sufficiency will continue to be a far-fetched future for Asia
  • A niche market of plant-based or synthetic meat might emerge sooner than expected in Asian countries, especially the developed economies such as Japan and Korea
Adrian Lo

Adrian Lo

Head of Business Consulting, HK
Ipsos Strategy 3

Content contributor: Ipsos Strategy 3

Ipsos Strategy3 is a dedicated advisory and consulting division of Ipsos Group S.A. (a publicly listed – EPA:IPS –  multinational market research and consulting firm with headquarters in Paris, France).  Ipsos Strategy 3 combines management consultancy with research and analytics to help businesses define the most relevant, impactful, and differentiated growth strategy. Leveraging the research capabilities and global reach of Ipsos, our multidisciplinary team of professionals having diverse backgrounds as management consultants, brand strategists, digital and innovation experts work together to answer clients’ complex business questions on customers, markets, brands, innovation and strategies for future success.