A global shortage of protein-rich foods is expected this year due to COVID-19 and other factors, says a new report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). The anticipated reduced availability of protein products is in turn expected to result in decreased consumption worldwide, particularly among the poor. This could exacerbate health problems among children.
Many foods are already being affected by reduced production and demand, with meat, fish, milk products and plant protein sources like soy beans among the more notable casualties.
Expansion in the world’s meat sectors has slowed due to market disruptions caused by the global pandemic, the report noted. COVID-19 related economic hardships, a steep decline in demand from the food services sector due to lockdowns, logistical bottlenecks, substantial volumes of unsold meat products, limitations in shipping and port backlogs, are some of the factors restraining growth in the world meat trade.
Total worldwide meat production in 2020 will fall by 1.7 percent from 2019 figures, while international meat prices have dropped 8.6 percent from January 2020, resulting in economic losses to producers.
World exports of milk and dairy products are forecast to contract by 4 percent in 2020, due to faltering import demand as a result of COVID-19, although world milk production is showing resilience, possibly growing by 0.8% this year. The pandemic will continue to heavily affect seafood markets as fishing fleets lay idle. Aquaculture harvests are being delayed and stocking targets drastically reduced, affecting production of heavily traded commodities such as shrimp, salmon, pangasius, tilapia, seabass and seabream.
Plant sources of protein, such as soy bean, also are being impacted negatively. Oil crop production is expected to decline in 2019/20 from the previous season’s record level, with pronounced drops in soybean and rapeseed outweighing gains in the other crops, the FAO reported.
“In the United States, adverse weather conditions led to sharply lower soybean plantings and yields… While poor harvests, notably of soybeans, are expected to drive down global supplies of meals/cakes, consumption is seen to keep expanding, albeit at a below-average rate, linked in part to temporary lockdowns imposed in numerous countries to halt the spread of COVID-19,” the report said. The Guardian