World meat production will need to grow from a current level of 270 million metric tons per year to 470 million metric tons annually by 2050, to satisfy the rise in demand for food due to population growth and improving incomes.

So says the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It plans an expert forum on food supply options, ahead of the UN World Summit on Food Security that will be held November 16-18, 2009, in Rome, Italy.

A new FAO discussion document quotes updated UN projections that the world’s human population in 2050 will have grown to 9.1 billion, compared with the 6.8 billion people living today. Nearly all the growth in population is expected to take place in the developing countries, which will account for 72% of all meat consumption — substantially up from their present share of 58%.

Another UN estimate is that the proportion of the world population living in towns or cities will rise from 49% to approximately 70%.