Asia’s Growing Appetite for Meat, Milk Seen Driving Up Costs

Asia’s fast-growing economies will increase demand for food in the next decade, especially meat and dairy, as incomes rise, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations predicted.

Meat, milk, butter and cheese prices will be high relative to grains and other plants through 2024 as diets in developing countries become more diversified, the groups wrote in a report released on Wednesday. Skim milk powder and cheese costs may increase more than 28 percent in that time, compared with a 10 percent rise in wheat.

“Asian economies continue to account for the greatest share of additional food consumption,” the OECD and the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization wrote.

Globally, demand for farm goods will be subdued on sluggish economic growth and as the consumption of staple foods gets closer to saturation in many emerging economies, according to the report. Expanding stockpiles and big harvests have pushed global food costs to the lowest in five years, UN data show.

Coarse grains and oilseeds used for animal feed will rise relative to other food staples as demand for meat increases, the groups said. Per capita consumption of dairy in developing countries is expected to increase 1.4 percent to 2 percent a year through 2024.

The decline in oil will reduce agriculture prices through lower energy and fertilizer costs, and make some biofuel production unprofitable without incentives or mandates in the next decade, the groups said.

Using crops to make fuel has been a driver of cereal demand in the past decade, with the volume of corn and other coarse grains turned into biofuels almost tripling from 2004 to 2014, according to the report.

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