According to the Cornell Alliance for Science, a new report (pdf) out from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations predicts there will be a global shortage of protein-rich foods this year due to COVID-19 and other factors. With fewer people able to consume protein due to the lack of availability, health problems among children could be exacerbated.
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 foodservices 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% from 2019 totals, while international meat prices have dropped 8.6% from January 2020, resulting in economic losses to producers.
World exports of milk and dairy products are forecast to contract by 4% in 2020 due to faltering import demand as a result of COVID-19. However, world milk production is showing resilience, possibly growing by 0.8% this year.
The pandemic will continue to affect seafood markets as fishing fleets lay idle. Aquaculture harvests are being delayed and stocking targets drastically reduced, affecting the production of heavily traded commodities such as shrimp, salmon, pangasius, tilapia, seabass, and seabream. Worldwide demand for both fresh and frozen shrimp is declining significantly, while demand for salmon is expected to drop by at least 15% from 2019 levels. Retail sales, particularly of fresh salmon and trout, have significantly fallen—a market that is not expected to recover for some time, the report said.
Plant sources of protein, such as soya bean, also are being impacted negatively. Oilseed crop production is expected to decline in 2019–2020 from the previous season’s record level, with pronounced drops in soybean and rapeseed outweighing gains in the other crops, the FAO reported.