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The meat sector is worth 32 billion euros between sustainability and employment

The beef, pig and poultry value chain ensures about 180 thousand jobs, with a positive impact not only on the economy but also on the environment.

The meat sector in Italy is worth 32 billion euros/year, divided between the industrial sector (22 billions) and agriculture (10 billions). These figures were illustrated by Luigi Scordamaglia, President of Federalimentare, during the presentation of the 'Sustainable Meat in Italy' report, and should be considered in the light of the role of meat in overall food sector: with 180 billion euros annually, it contributes 10-15% to Italy's gross domestic product.


Combining beef, poultry and pork sectors, turnover comes to around 22 billion euros, mainly from meat processing. While the economic value of the three sectors are fairly uniform (beef and poultry at 6 billion euros each and pork at 10 billions), differences are evident in relation to import-export figures. The pork sector has a strong export vocation but still imports 35% of raw materials; on the contrary, the beef sector imports nearly 40% of meat, while the balance of trade in the poultry sector is rather neutral.


The idea that meat is important not only for human protein requirements but also for the surrounding environment is the key idea behind the proposal drawn up by Unaitalia, Assica and Assocarni to promote greater sustainability in the sector, not only with a view to Expo 2015 but also as a legacy for the future, through effective suggestions for the Milan Charter to be submitted to the UN Secretary-General on the World Food Day.


The innovative aspect lies in the different approach proposed that assesses environmental impact on the basis of quantities of meat effectively consumed in accordance with a balanced Mediterranean diet. In this way, the relationship between greenhouse gas emission volumes along the supply chain and products consumed drops to 5.9 kg of equivalent Co2, in line with the typical result for fruit and vegetables.


Economic and environmental sustainability also combine to boost employment in the meat sector, with about 180 thousand employees – 55 thousand in the poultry sector, 44 thousand for pigs and 80,000 for beef. Most livestock farms are concentrated in the North of Italy, which in total covers as much as 70.3% of beef, 87.3% of pigs and 71.5% of poultry; data in each category in Southern Italy are respectively, 22.2%, 6.4% and 16%. 


Source: Eurocarne Outlook

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