Global beef production must rise by 43% to meet the growing demand from consumers, according to Elanco, the animal health company.

It says that without innovation, beef production worldwide could see the need for 170m more cattle to meet the demand by 2050.

"With innovation we will have enough beef by 2050. All with 682m fewer cattle than otherwise needed, 6.2 billons tons less forage, 655B gallons less water."

It says that continued innovation will mean we can raise fewer than 1.7 billion cattle by 2050 yet raise 43% more beef.

Today we have 1.67 billion beef cattle, but without innovation we will need an estimated 2.38 billion by 2050 to meet demand, Elanco says.

And it's the 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).

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.

To raise more cattle 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%, it says.

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 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.

“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.”