Population growth and rising incomes across Asia will drive a 78 percent increase in meat and seafood consumption by 2050, a new report released on Tuesday said.
The report -- Charting Asia's Protein Journey' -- by Asia Research and Engagement (ARE) which examines the environmental effects of meeting Asia's growing demand for protein, was released at the Sustainable Food Summit here. It discloses for the first time the dramatic impact on water, land-use, anti-microbial use and the climate.
In India, it says consumers have gradually switched from bovine meat to poultry over the past two to three decades, a trend that it project to continue in the medium term, with an increase in beef and water buffalo exports to higher earning countries.
The study modeled Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea individually and projected values for the rest of Asia.
Specifically, the report finds that between 2017 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions will rise 88 per cent from 2.9 billion tonnes of CO2 to 5.4 billion tonnes per year -- equivalent to 95 million lifetime emissions by cars.
India's greenhouse gas emissions will decrease marginally by 2030 before increasing 21 per cent by 2050 due to the changing mix of consumption -- with a lower proportion of bovine meats that have high associated emissions.
A land mass the size of India will be required to accommodate food production with land usage rising 81 per cent from 3.9 million sq km to 7.1 million sq km. The report says water use will rise 83 per cent to 1,054 billion m3 from 577 billion m3 per annum.
The antimicrobial use will rise 44 per cent growth from 27,000 tonnes to 39,000 tonnes per annum, raising risks of antibiotic resistance.
"Unless we rapidly chart a more sustainable path together, the growing Asian appetite for meat and seafood is a recipe for environmental destruction," report lead author Serena Tan said in a statement.
"This report aims to provide a baseline for regulators, the meat industry, and finance to understand critical problems in meat production and prioritise solutions."It includes making use of improved farm technology, stronger sustainability policies from multinational food corporations and more effective regulation, monitoring, and enforcement from governments.
As per report's projections, Indonesia's total meat and seafood supply will grow by nearly three times between 2018 and 2050, a much faster pace than the 60 per cent expected for India, the second most populous country in the region, over the same period.
This faster pace will result in Indonesia's meat consumption overtaking India's by 2036 at around 7.5 million tonnes, despite India's per capita GDP increasing at a faster pace and India being home to a population five times that of Indonesia over the forecast period.
The different trends follow from a cultural aversion towards meat consumption in India, which has the highest proportion of vegetarians in the world at 38 per cent of the country's population, and greater per capita income levels in Indonesia.
Robert Appleby, a founder, and partner of ADM Capital said: "The potentially devastating climate, land and water impacts, coupled with the excessive and damaging use of antibiotics and concurrent health consequences, offer many reasons to improve the sustainability of protein production in Asia."