Global food demand will increase by 35 to 55 per cent in the next 30 years, report researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Even though food supply has increased dramatically since the 1960s, the question of how to eradicate global hunger – one of the Sustainable Development Goals – and feed the growing world population in years to come, remains a major challenge, their report said.
In a worst-case scenario, world hunger could increase by eight per cent.
Climate change and increasing competition for land and water are further exacerbating the problem.
This makes the need for effective policies to ensure global food security and a better understanding of the underlying causes of global hunger ever more urgent.
The researchers said more policy choices are needed than either continuing along the current path of food production or switching to organic production and vegan diets.
This study, which has been published in the journal Nature Food, focused on two key food security indicators – food demand and the impact of increased production on land us, biodiversity and climate change.
The study was done by compiling data from 57 research reports, leading to the conclusion that food demand will increase by between 35 and 56 per cent over the period 2010-2050.
This is mainly due to population growth, economic development, urbanization and other drivers. This range is somewhat lower than previous studies, which stated that food production must be doubled.
To avoid negative impacts on the environment and biodiversity, production increases would need to be accompanied by policies and investments that promote sustainable intensification, reduce food loss and waste and promote the shift towards a more plant-based diet, the authors led by Michael Van Djik said.
“Our study can fuel the public debate on the future of food by inviting every citizen to imagine and discuss a wider range of food future scenarios, rather than just a binary choice between business-as-usual and the universal adoption of organic agriculture or vegan diets,” said co-author Yashar Saghai of the University of Twente at Enschede in the Netherlands.
“To think responsibility and creatively about the future, we need to envision multiple plausible scenarios and evaluate their consequences,” he said.