Globally, demand for animal protein is expected to double by 2050, as the population grows and as more households in emerging economies join the world’s “middle classes”. 70% of this additional food supply will have to come from innovation in agriculture and modern technologies according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
By improving the health, welfare and production levels of Europe's livestock through the responsible use of veterinary medicines and vaccines, we will be able to meet this significant increase in food demand.
See also: Contribution to a sustainable society
The OIE estimates global production of food is reduced by 20% due to diseases in farmed animals. These losses are particularly felt in developing countries whose livelihood is very dependent on animal production. Two-thirds of the world’s poorest rely on their food-producing animals for their survival and livelihoods.
Animal health products help the sustainable development of livestock farming and of the market for animal produce by ensuring the health and better productivity of food-producing animals and an improved use of natural resources. Animal health products help support the livelihood of the farming community in both developed and developing countries. In Europe this means supporting more than 12 million farmers.
There is a high demand for good quality meat, milk and eggs across Europe and beyond, and animal health products have and will continue to help veterinarians and farmers deliver safe and affordable food to people in Europe and in other parts of the world. According to Jacques Viaene and Ann de Craene of the University of Ghent (1995) if we did not have veterinary medicine, we would need 89% more cattle to produce the same amount of milk and beef.
Advances in livestock breeding and nutrition, along with the increased use of animal health products have helped to transform livestock agriculture and food production over the past 50 years. By cutting mortality rates and reducing losses from disease, they have contributed to significant increases in productivity. The connection between animal health and food security is clear – animal health products play a vital role in ensuring the continued provision of safe and quality food.