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Journal number 2 ∘ Paata Koguashvili Badri Ramishvili
Assessment of the optimal quantity and structure of meat consumption in Georgia

Expanded Summary

The rapid growth of meat production and consumption in recent decades is driven by astonishing improvements in economic and social situation of most countries of the world. For example, in 1961, one inhabitant of the world consumed an average of about 20 kg of meat, and almost 36 kg by 2018. Over the same period, the GDP per capita has increased about 4 times.This link between social wealth and meat consumption, in turn, is due to the fact that animal products, especially meat and meat products, have a high value, and can be affordable mostly forthe financially established population. However, if we undertake a planetary analysis of meat consumption, we will see that there are several exceptions in this respect, which is due to the local alimentary culture, ethno-religiousissues, specific conditions of meat production and other factors. For example, the so-called lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets excluding meat consumption. Recently, there has also been an increase in the number of vegetarians and vegans.

World economy 2020 has faced completely a new problem due to spread of coronavirus. The term “coronomic crisis” has been established, which underlines the importance of events. At the given moment it is clear that global economy undertakes some impediments. The isolation and deglobalisation will bring negative results to the world economy and it is essential to diversify supply and value chains. It is evident current situation will affect the humankind for a long time. Although the most important in the nearest future is the health of humans and physiological sustainability, and this is by a huge part dependent on healthy, balanced feeding. Despite the fact, in the expense of which - local production or import strategy– Georgia will choose to meet meat demands in the country, in both cases it will be essential to define optimal consumption of volumes and structure of meat, to which this work is dedicated.

According to the physiological standards of nutrition established in the former Soviet Union, the average person requires about 65-73 kg of meat and its by-products per year. These standards were based on well-justified medical research. Some fluctuations in the standard were due to several reasons, most of which were associated with climatic conditions in the region and the employment profile of the population. For Georgia, which was located in the south of empire and covered the main part of subtropical area, the low value of this standard was considered acceptable because fruits and vegetables were more affordable products for the local population. It should also be noted that the vast majority of the population of Georgia, taking into account the employment profile and conditions, did not need a special diet that includes the prevalence of animal products, especially fats, in the diet of the population of the industrial centers in the North of the Soviet Union. Therefore, the average annual consumption of meat and its by-products for the average resident of Georgia was about 65 kg. We believe that using these data as a common guideline would be appropriate for our further research.

One problem is to achieve the physiological standard of nutrition, while the other is to achieve this in an optimal way, which means to meet the demand by local production. This would, among other things, allow Georgia to retain its population, especially in rural areas, especially in the mountain countryside. After all, meat production is one of the most labor-intensive industries, and its development, among other things, will contribute to growth in the capacity of Georgian rural area, and this will raise this rate to the optimal 300-330 thousand employees.

The specific conditions of meat production have a great influence on the populations’ dietary habits in countries with similar resources. These are primarily extensive pastures or the other type of a stable food base, fertile agricultural land, good climatic conditions, water resources, and a large area. When we face these factors, the first thing that is developing is acheap cattle breeding, however, it is clear that the opportunities for other types of animal or poultry meat production are also increasing. We can point to seven countries on earth, where the above listed basic production conditions exist. These are: the United States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile and New Zealand.

The people in seven countries listed above took the liberty of having the rightto eat large quantities of meat, and specifically cattle meat,which is considered particularly expensive,accounts for a significant proportionin meat consumption patterns. The expensiveness is dueto the quantity of food intake. These seven states themselves can be parted into two groups. The first group will consist of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where along with favorableframework conditions of meat production,the level of economic development in high as well. The second group of countries will consist of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. In terms of the GDP per capita, these countries can be considered the moderately advanced countries, but owing to favorable conditions of cattle breeding, production of cheap meat allows their people to consume this product at a high level.

The high rates of meat consumption in the EU and Israel are provided by the highly developed agriculture and the healthy economic environment. Of particular note is Israel, where, for religious reasons, pork is not consumed at all, and it is replaced by poultry meat.

The examples of Norway and Japan are also interesting. These countries are among the world leaders in terms of economic development, but the rate of meat consumption is quite low there. In our view, the main reason for this is a high proportion of fish and seafood in the diet of their inhabitants. This is especially true for Japan.

Switzerland is an exemplary country for Georgia in terms of an economic development model, especially of anagricultural development model. In terms of the GDP per capita, it is one of the world leaders, however in 2018, meat consumption was below the physiological standards of nutrition (we are primarily guided by data provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, although there are also other various information sources). This could be explained by the increase in the number of followers of healthy nutrition. This view is also supported by the fact that since the mid-1970s, when the per capita meat consumption was more than 75 kg, this figure has been declining steadily.

Russia and Kazakhstan have the best conditions in terms of economic development and framework conditions of meat production in the post-Soviet space. Meat consumption in Russia is close to the physiological standards of nutrition, and the same cannot be said of Kazakhstan, which is explained by the predominated Islamic food culture, and therefore the consumption of pork is at a minimal level there. Ukraine is a highly promising country in terms of agriculture and livestock development, but because of the current economic and political instability, the meat consumption rate is at a low level there.

In meat consumption patterns, we have discussed the consumption rates of poultry, pork, cattle and ovine meats, although goat meat may also be included in the latter. This is the case in Georgia, for example. In some countries, the consumption of other types of meat may also be of some significance (for example, in China, given the country's highly varied cuisine), but globally, in quantitative terms, it should not be substantial, so it is not usually accounted.

Until recently, pork was dominant in meat consumption pattern in the world, in the diet of the major consumers such as China and the European Union, and pork still is the highest percentage in the diet, although there has been a recent increase in poultry consumption, which is due to several factors. First, it should be noted that poultry meat is the most inexpensive, as compared to production of other meat products, the cost of feeding stuffs is several times lower. However, owing to its biological characteristics, poultry is considered to be a fast-growing sector. Trend sin healthy nutrition observed in developed countries contribute to an increase in poultry meat consumption. It is a well-known fact that poultry meat is rich in animal proteins and low in cholesterol as compared to other types of meat.

From a socio-economic point of view, great importance is attached to achieving an appropriate level of the physiological standards of nutrition in meat consumption in Georgia, which we determined at a level of 65 kg. At the same time, it is also necessary to identify meat consumption pattern, which should be based mostly on local production opportunities, the established food culture and the principles of healthy eating. By 2018, an average annual meat and meat products consumption per capita was 38 kg in Georgia, and  structurally this volume was divided by type as follows: 47.4% accounted for poultry, 28.9% - for pork, 21.1% - for beef, and 2.5% accounted for ovine and goat meat. In our view, these proportions, which have been established as a result of the impact of market forces, are not going to change significantly, although some adjustments are desirable. In addition, if we also take into account that meat consumption per capita in Georgia should increase by 27 kilograms, these adjustments can be made smoothly.

In our view, the rate of poultry meat consumption in Georgia should be at least at a level of 50%, which, according to the physiological standards of nutrition, is equivalent to 32.5 kg in absolute numbers. The poultry industry must be diversified, and special attention should be attached to promoting the local production and consumption of turkey meat. Consumption of ovine and goat meat should be significantly increased, especially the latter, as goat is a traditional farm animal for western Georgia. To this category should also be added the rabbit meat, and the total consumption rate of ovine, goat and rabbit meat should be increased substantially, and meat rationing should make upat least 6%, or about 4 kg. There are no large reserves for the growth of beef consumption in Georgia, so at best, it will remain at a level of about 20%, which, according to the physiological standards of nutrition, is equivalent to 13 kg. The remaining 15.5 kg, or about 24%, will be attributed to pork, which will always remain an important part of the meat rationing due to Georgian dietary habits.

Particular importance is attached to achieving an appropriate level of the physiological standards of nutrition in meat consumption in Georgia(by our calculations - 65 kg). In our view, these proportions, which have been established as a result of the impact of market forces,In our view, the proportions that have been established as a result of the impact of market forces on the consumption of different types of meat should not change significantly, although some adjustments are possible.

In addition, it should also be taken into account that meat consumption per capita in Georgia should increase by 27 kilograms that allows to make these adjustments smoothly.

The poultry industry must be diversified, and special attention should be attached to promoting the local production and consumption of turkey meat. Consumption of ovine and goat meat should be increased significantly.

An important basis of meat consumption patternpresented in the paper is that it should be coveredby local production. We should also remember that meat is a valuable product, and development of its local productionwill increase the productivity, net rent and, consequently, the price of Georgian land, and this will allow it, as an important asset of agricultural production, to become fully involved in economic activities.