Diets in Asia and around the world are shifting and expanding, according to highlights from a recent research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) led by the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR).

The research looked at a range of topics “at the intersection of climate change, agriculture and food security”, including dietary change, global food demand, and population and revealed that per capita consumption is increasing in almost all parts of the world.

CGIAR highlights that global consumption of livestock products has been increasing more rapidly than many other foods, as a result of people eating a larger proportion of meats and other animal products in their daily diets.

While meat and dairy consumption rates are increasing globally, this growth is happening at a much more rapid pace in regions such as Asia. Individuals in South Asia are expected to be consuming 309 per cent more meat in 2050 than they were in 2005 compared to the OECD and Eastern Europe where only an 11 per cent per capita increase in meat consumption is expected.

Explaining this increase, Dr. Prabhu Pingali – author of the FAO’s Agricultural and Economics Division paper, Westernisation of Asian diets and the transformation of food systems: Implications for research and policy , said Asia’s rapid economic and income growth as well as urbanisation and globalisation are leading to changing dietary patterns in the region.

He said: “[these trends] are leading to a dramatic shift of Asian diets away from staples and increasingly towards livestock and dairy products, vegetables and fruit, and fats and oils.” He added that the “rapid spread of global supermarket chains and fast food restaurants is reinforcing these trends”.

A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Meat Processing Technology for Small to Medium-Scale Producers research paper further highlighted the role growing affluence and urbanisation has on dietary trends, particularly in relation to livestock products.

It noted that “as soon as consumers’ incomes allow, there is a general trend towards incorporating more animal protein, in particular meat, in the daily diet”.

The report also stated that the rise in demand and consumption of meat is “mainly a consequence of the fast progression of urbanisation” in the region.