HOW WILL FOOD CONSUMPTION HABITS CHANGE IN 2050’s

Posted by nazimiacikgoz on 28/01/14

It is expected that, world will need 50%-70% more food by 2050. The main reasons are global warming, increasing population and much more daily calories due to raising welfare. But population

increase is causing dramatic fall in agricultural areas per person.  Currently cultivated landis 1.38 billion hectares and unfortunately this is unfortunately not easy expanded. Opositly it might shirink due to soil erosion, eutrophication, salinisation, built-up land (cities and infrastructures) etc. In 1960’s cultivated land per person was 0.45 hectare (Ha, 4500 m2), whereas it did decrease to 0.24 Ha in 2010’s. It is expected that his share will drop to 0.18 Ha in 2050’s.

Institutions or individuals, responsible for tomorrow’s food strategies, need to be informed precisely and scientifically. Some serious reports claim, that feeding of 9.6 billion inhabitants won’t be easy in 2050’s. One of the main obstacles seems to be changing habit of food consumption. Estimation of expected yearly consumption per year per person of every basic food staff would be useful guide for not only future planners, food strategists, but also for researchers and investors.

The question “how will we make up the gap?” is not answered easily. Will yield increase per unit area be a solution? Don’t we need to increase or decrease cultivation area some of basic crops? Here, agriculture strategists are obliged to know the expectation, which products at what quantity or in which ratio will be consumed in future. To this question, answers are in reports of the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) World Food Programme (WFP), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and numerous other international organizations such as the CGIAR ect (Literature). Some figures, taken from the mentioned reports are arranged in the table on top.  Means of the annual per capita consumption values (kg) of main products in 2005, 2006 and 2007 are in the second column and 2050’s expected values are in the third column. In the other columns are given kg differences and percentage respectively. ​​Estimated ratios in last column are remarkable and their interpretations are quite useful for all of us. Based on these figures, it is understood which products will be more consumed in future. According to these data we can give priority to different food resources for research, investment and production in future.

-From the bottom line of the table can be recognized that, the annual per capita kilocalories rise from 2772 to 3070 (%11);

-Cereal consumption per person per year seems to be unchangeable. But wheat-rice consumption transition in some countries needs to be considered. In some countries rising rice consumption trends are remarkable, like China and Turkey;

-Sugar consumption will increase to 25 kg from 22 kg. But some international food and agricultural organizations are reporting that, sugar beet, as a cultivated plant is the only one, which’s cultivation area won’t increase in future;

-%15 increasing consumption of legumes[1] proves that reporters of the data in the table are assuming that all consumers become conscious on healthy diet!

-The maximum increase of per person consumption has been observed for plant oil. This ratio (%33) is very important especially due to biofuel issue. But it is very considerable especially for plant oil importer countries;

-Increasing consumption of meat and dairy products were already indisputable.

According to these estimated details politicians, bureaucrats, scientists should rethink for tomorrow’s biyoekonomik research programs. With the intense pressure of climate change expectation, we have to give a priority to plant breading for drought, heat, cold, lodging etc. tolerant genotypes of basic crops. Some communities have already started with adaptation studies of preferential crops in new ecologies. For instance EU has financed legume adaptation research project to develop the use of legumes in cropping systems to improve the economic and environmental performance of European agriculture.  USA has already improved numbers of drought resistant corn genotypes.

Future food dilemma forced many countries to rearrangement of their national agricultural research systems. BRIC countries are typical example in this respect. Brazil did already establish its EMPRAPA (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research) for national research activity. Bringing together Federal and State experiment station, Universities and private sector, Brazil is now second after USA in agricultural biotechnology (Literature). India’s recently established ICAR (The Indian Council of Agricultural Research) with 99 institutes, 69 Agricultural Universities and 636 experiment station one of the largest national agricultural research systems in the world (Literature).  How about developing countries? Couldn’t they combine all manpower, infrastructure, genetic material and money into one research system? Why university’s research armies not incorporate in to agricultural research system?  We can not to take into consideration that global warming is going to double plant breeder’s jobs (organic variety developments are still waiting!). Because “GENOTYPE * ENVIRONMENT” interaction will gain more importance with climate change.

Nazimi Açıkgöz


[1] The United Nations has declared “2016” the Year of the legume!

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