Largest Meat-Producing Nations In The World

By Ellen Kershner on May 28 2020 in World Facts

CVOID-19 has resulted in shortages of meat in many parts of the world. Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash
  • meat supply chains have been encountering problems as workers have become sickened.
  • restaurants and grocery stores were not getting their usual supplies and cuts of meat.
  • China was the top producer in the world, with 88,156,383 tons per year.
  • Factory farms are built on large tracts of land that are used to raise animals, especially domestic livestock like cattle.

If you were wondering what has happened to all the beef during the COVID-19 pandemic, meat supply chains have been encountering problems as workers have become sickened. Working in close proximity to one another cutting and trimming meat has caused workers to contract the virus, and plants have closed down. Prices have increased and supply has decreased, although this situation will not last forever.

Meanwhile, marketplace.org reported that United States meat is still being shipped to other countries overseas, including China. Reuters reported that China also has shortages, mainly caused by African swine fever that has killed half of its pig population during the past two years.

The Defense Production Act

Many farmers have a glut of cattle because slaughterhouses are closed due to COVID-19. Photo by Sean McGee on Unsplash

In the U.S., meatpacking plants were in crisis, without enough employees; farmers had too many cattle, chicken, and hogs that needed to be fed but could not be sold. As a result, restaurants and grocery stores were not getting their usual supplies and cuts of meat.

President Trump’s Defense Production Act in April forced meat plants to remain open to keep supplies up. The pork company Smithfield is ramping up production to produce more meat for Americans, and another U.S. meat processor, JBS, has cut back on imports to other countries.

The Top Five

China produces the most meat. Photo by Lauren McConachie on Unsplash

Before the pandemic hit and it was business as usual for the meat industry, China was the top producer in the world, with 88,156,383 tons per year. In 2019, the retail sales for meat products here was 35.3 metric tons. Although this country is a big meat consumer (numbers have gone up in recent years), annual consumption per person falls behind other countries. Europe comes in second at 63,845,936; the U.S. is third at 46,832,946; Brazil produces 29,341,250; and Russia is fifth with 10,629,378 metric tons per year.

Looking at the average annual consumption of meat per person, the United States comes in first, Brazil second, and Canada third, followed by the United Kingdom, China, Kenya, and India.

What is Factory Farming?

The rise in factory farming began during World War II, when there were labor shortages in farms and factories. Factory farms are built on large tracts of land that are used to raise animals, especially domestic livestock like cattle. The large numbers of animals are raised in conditions to maximize production while minimizing cost - this is why those numbers chart so high. These farms have been widely criticized, especially in recent years, by conservationists and animal rights groups.

Factory Farming in Asia

Factory Farms in Asia have been in the news for many reasons. In response to Asia’s changing tastes and increasing populations, Asian food companies have expanded meat production in recent years. The Guardian reported that the use of antibiotics there will double within a decade, and that factory farming of poultry increases the threat of bird flu. They also predicted that antibiotic use in pig and poultry farms will also increase by more than 120% in the next decade. Coller Capital’s Jeremy Coller stated that in order to combat threats like epidemics, antibiotics, and emissions, sustainability and management issues in these markets must be addressed.

Factory Farming in the U.S.

Studies show that as much as 99% of farmed animals in the US are raised on factory farms. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As more and more U.S. residents turn to sustainable and organic meats, many will be surprised to learn that one study claims that 99% of farmed animals here are raised on factory farms. A 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture (released in 2019) showed that 99.9 percent of chickens raised for meat, 99.8% of turkeys, 98.3% of pigs, 98.2% of chickens raised for eggs, and 70.4% of cows were from factory farms. “It is still the predominant system of animal agriculture," said Sentience Institute Executive Director Kelly Witwicki. She also called the situation a “moral catastrophe.”

In Europe

European politicians want to limit the number of animals on factory farms to increase animal welfare. Photo by Hassan Rafi on Unsplash

The third-biggest meat producing region, Europe, seems divided over the factory farming issue. Although the European Parliament agriculture committee subsidizes factory farms, there was a plan in the works to cut the funding. The environmental committee wanted to do this and limit the number of animals allowed on the farms, increasing animal welfare standards. These propositions were recommended to promote climate and ecological-friendly farming and to allow animals to move around; it was also a way to allow manure to be disposed of in a safe manner. These proposals were rejected by the agriculture committee.

Largest Meat-Producing Nations In The World

RankCountryLivestock Primary In Tonnes
1China88,156,383
2Europe63,845,936
3United States46,832,946
4Brazil29,341,250
5Russia10,629,378
6Germany8,188,920
7India7,454,329
8Mexico7,051,277
9Spain7,028,021
10Australia & New Zealand6,111,174
11Argentina5,930,063
12France5,621,700
13Vietnam5,227,733
14Canada4,893,195
15Australia4,658,530
16Poland4,462,900
17United Kingdom4,087,453
18Japan4,016,429
19Pakistan3,870,230
20Turkey3,668,362
21Italy3,667,805
22Philippines3,641,656
23Indonesia3,596,531
24Myanmar3,528,801
25Iran3,086,281
26Netherlands2,936,411
27Thailand2,932,944
28Colombia2,829,394
29South Korea2,498,302
30Ukraine2,382,786
31Egypt2,152,429
32Malaysia2,113,716
33Peru2,015,635
34Denmark1,874,459
35Belgium1,825,437
36Taiwan1,531,124
37Chile1,504,623
38New Zealand1,452,644
39Nigeria1,451,207
40Morocco1,345,660
41Venezuela1,294,958
42Caribbean1,264,146
43Uzbekistan1,205,758
44Belarus1,193,215
45Romania1,151,673
46Ireland1,139,853
47Kazakhstan1,050,620
48Hungary1,037,355
49Sudan986,987

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