The global livestock industry has been quite dynamic for some time now. Whereas demand for livestock products in developing economies has been instrumental in driving growth, the developed world, in contrast, has been witnessing stagnating demand. Production systems, too, have been in the process of enhancing efficiencies and environmental sustainability. Traditionally, livestock products’ demand has changed in direct proportion to human population growth, income growth and levels of urbanization and different livestock systems have responded to these changes by developing science and technology platforms for enhancing animal production. Future production would largely depend on a range of competitive forces, such as those for natural resources, including land and water and those between food and feed, in addition to functioning in a carbon-constrained economy. Potential production growth and additional efficiency and genetic gains would be greatly facilitated through advancements in breeding, nutrition and animal health.
On a worldwide basis, the livestock industry can be said to be a study in contrasts between the developed and developing regions. Meat production has been witnessing unprecedented growth in the developing world, with a major proportion of the same being concentrated in regions that went through rapid economic growth, such as Asia-Pacific. On the contrary, the developed world presents a strikingly different picture, with meat production and consumption in these regions either on the wane or already declined.
By 2050, it is estimated that the global human population would reach a projected 9 billion, ranging between 8-10.46 billion, with a major chunk of this increase expected to be in the developing regions. Though the overall global population growth is likely to cease at some point in time in this century, the rapidity in this growth would, in all likelihood, have a debilitating effect in realizing food security improvements in some countries, at least. Urbanization forms yet another key factor that influences demand for food. An increasing number of people have moved over to urban settings now from rural areas that at any previous point of time, with statistics revealing urbanization rates varying from below 30% in South Asia to almost 80% in the developed world and Latin America. General patterns of food consumption and specific demand for livestock products are greatly shaped by levels of urbanization. Another factor bolstering demand for livestock products is growth in income, and it has been established that growing income is directly proportional to growing demand for livestock products. As a consequence, Africa and Asia are the regions slated to emerge as the fastest growing for food products derived from livestock. Contrastingly, high calorie intakes of animal products in a majority of OECD countries would ensure that consumption levels record negligible changes, and consumption levels in South America and countries of the Former Soviet Union are expected to reach up to current OECD levels.
An increasing demand for livestock directly translates into increasing demand for animal feed and animal feed additives. Nutritional requirements of livestock as regards energy, protein, minerals and vitamins have been known for long now, and the past few decades have witnessed modifications in the same on an as needed basis. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for animal growth by maintaining immune function and animal health. While demand for vitamin E in the developed economies has been stagnating, the opposite scenario in the developing world has led to propelling demand for this key animal feed vitamin. A comparison of prices between natural and synthetic vitamin E indicates the vast difference between the two, with the former being several notches higher. Therefore, it is but obvious that demand for synthetic vitamin E for animal feed applications would continue to grow as demand for livestock also grows, more so in the developing regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Countries, such as Brazil, China, Russia and other Asian and African regions have been on a catching up mode as they are increasingly adopting modern animal production systems to keep abreast of enhancing domestic demand. Several major players, such as BASF, Cargill and DSM are among the few who have either established themselves in these regions or are making a beeline for them. Demand for synthetic vitamin E in the animal feed industry of developing regions is poised to surpass that of developed regions, and manufacturers of synthetic vitamin E would do well to grab this opportunity with both hands and make the most of it by expanding their market shares.