MALAYSIA: Meat and seafood demand in Asia over the next three decades will grow by 78 per cent, leading to huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions and antibiotics used in foods, according to a report by a Singapore-based consultancy firm.
The firm, Asia Research and Engagement Pte Ltd., points out that from 2017 to 2050 with supply chains ramping up to meet demand, greenhouse gas emissions will jump from 2.9 billion tons of CO2 per year to 5.4 billion tons, the equivalent of the lifetime emissions of 95 million cars.
“We wanted to highlight that, because of the large population and how fast the population is growing, it is going to put a strain on the environment,” said the report co-author Serena Tan.
“By recognizing this and where it comes from, we can tackle the solutions,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The document explains that a land area the size of India will be needed for additional food production while water use will climb from 577 billion cubic meters per year to 1,054 billion cubic meters per year.
The use of antimicrobials, which kill or stop the growth of microorganisms, and include antibiotics, will increase 44 per cent to 39,000 tons per year, said the report, which was commissioned by the Hong Kong-based ADM Capital Foundation.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food is rife in Southeast Asia, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said this year, warning of serious risks for people and animals as bacterial infections become more resistant to treatment.
Growing urban areas contribute to the rising demand for meat and seafood, because people there usually have better access to electricity and refrigeration, said David Dawe, a senior economist at the FAO in Bangkok.
“But income growth is the big driver,” he added.
Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Pakistan are among nations likely to contribute most to the rise in meat and seafood consumption, while countries with aging populations, like China, will likely limit growth, Tan said.
In her view, food producers can increase efficiency by implementing rainwater harvesting, using sustainable animal feed and capturing biogas from cattle.
“Regulators, consumers and investors can also pressure restaurant chains and producers to limit the use of antibiotics in meat supplies. At meal times, consumers can also choose plant-based foods made to look like meats as an alternative,” Tan concluded.