Steering Beef in the Right Direction

Farming Innovations Allow Beef Industry to Freeze Carbon Footprint, Save Resources

  • With innovation we will have enough beef by 2050. All with 682M fewer cattle than otherwise needed, 6.2B tons less forage, 655B gallons less water. #FeedThe9

  • Continued innovation will mean we can raise fewer than 1.7 billion cattle by 2050 yet raise 43% more beef. #FeedThe9

  • Today we have 1.67 billion beef cattle. Without innovation we will need an estimated 2.38 billion by 2050 to meet demand. #FeedThe9

GREENFIELD, IN (February 4, 2015) – Growth of the world population and new entrants to the middle class will cause demand for meat, milk and eggs to increase worldwide. By 2050, average per capita beef consumption will increase slightly from 182 grams (6.4 ounces) per week to 194 grams (6.8 ounces). To meet this increased demand, global beef production will need to increase by 43 percent.

This will be possible through the use of farming innovations and best practices that will allow farmers and ranchers around the world to produce more beef with fewer resources—meeting global demand, while freezing the industry’s environmental footprint.

If innovation is frozen at 2010 levels, farmers and ranchers will need to raise 710 million additional cattle and water buffalo to meet 2050 demand. To raise more cattle and water buffalo without improved farming best practices, especially in developing countries, farmers and ranchers would need to increase their use of grazed forage* and water by 43 percent.

With continued improvement for farming practices, such as better year-round nutrition and improved breeding and genetic selection, fewer than 1.7 billion cattle and water buffalo will be needed to provide adequate global beef supplies. This is nearly the same size as today’s global herd of cattle and water buffalo, which is approximately 1.68 billion. More importantly, the beef industry can freeze its environmental footprint to 2010 levels.

According to Elanco’s analysis as part of its 2014 Food Forward reporting, continued innovation in 2050 compared to frozen innovation in 2050 will lead to significant savings, including:

  • Saving 2.48 trillion liters (655 billion gallons) of water

  • Saving 5.6 billion metric tonnes (6.2 billion tons) of grazed forage*

“The ability to freeze the environmental footprint of beef production represents a game-changing milestone for the industry,” said Rob Aukerman, President, North American Commercial Operations at Elanco. “As demand for beef and other animal proteins rises, investment in farming best practices becomes crucial. With that investment, we can provide the beef demanded by consumers around the world while preserving land and water resources.”

As the world population surpasses 9 billion people as estimated in 2050, increased demand for beef will be driven by the estimated 3 billion people expected to join the middle class who will be able to afford to add meat, milk and eggs to their diets.

“With improved knowledge of farming best practices and increased access to innovations for animal health, producers can focus on efficient production methods to provide consumers across the globe with the quality, nutrient-rich food they want and deserve,” said Aukerman. “Elanco aims to equip these farmers and ranchers with the innovative products, services and expertise needed to do so.”

For more information on how you can help achieve food security, visit and join the movement to feed 9 billion people. Join the conversation by following @Elanco on Twitter and Facebook or follow the conversation around #FeedThe9.
Images that can be linked to or used with the press release can be found:

* Globally, the vast majority of cattle and water buffalo consume grazed forage, which is typically made up of grasses and post-harvest field residue like corn stalks, and wheat and rice straw.

1. Health Benefits of Beef." Beef Bytes #1. National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014.
2. Knapp, J. Elanco Animal Health. Food Forward: Global Beef Story. 2014. Data on file.
3. Kharas, H. “The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries.” Global Development Outlook. OECD Development Center. Working Paper No. 85. January 2010.
4. Food & Agriculture Organization. “How to Feed the World in 2050.” Rome. 12-13 Oct. 2009. pp. 1-6.


About Elanco

Elanco is a global innovation-driven company that develops and markets products to improve animal health, food animal production and companion animal care in nearly 70 countries. Elanco, a division of leading pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, employs approximately 7,000 people worldwide, with offices in more than 40 countries. Additional information about Elanco is available at