Original publication: September 2019
Authors: Ines Ferreira, Maria Kirova, Francesco Montanari, Consuelo Montfort, Juan Moroni, Rik Neirynck, Monica Pesce [1]
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/MGT629Ag

This study explores the global trends that influence the way the world will produce, distribute, sell and consume food in a changing environment influenced by several key drivers of change (demographic and economic growth, evolving consumption patterns, technological progress, integration of global trade and climate change). Based on the challenges that agriculture and food systems are facing to feed a growing population in a sustainable way, it provides policy options along contrasting and alternative scenario lines.

Key Findings
Megatrends in the agri-food sector: global overview and possible policy response from an EU perspective

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The world faces a huge challenge to feed itself over the coming decades, as the world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050.

A 50 % increase in food production (as compared to present levels) will be needed by this date to feed an additional 2.3 billion people. According to current dietary trends and the expected rise in income per capita over the period, this might entail significant increases in crop yields and livestock units. The latter will prove challenging, as land used for livestock production already represents 80 % of all agricultural land.

While hunger has been reduced globally since the 1990s, more than 820 million people still have insufficient food. At the same time, global shifts to unhealthy diets in middle and high-income countries increase the burden of obesity and diet-related diseases.

The agri-food sector also faces environmental challenges, as food production is the largest cause of global environmental change: agriculture occupies 40 % of global land and food production is responsible for 21 % of global greenhouse-gas emissions and 70 % of freshwater use.

In the context of several key drivers of change (demographic and economic growth, evolving consumption patterns, technological progress, integration of global trade or climate change) which will all impact the agricultural value chain, the agri-food sector will thus have to adapt to this increasing food demand while at the same time addressing sustainability and health challenges.

Against this background the study outlines four alternative and contrasting scenarios that could shape the future of the food sector in the coming decades:

  • Scenario 1 “Small steps but no goals achieved”
  • Scenario 2 “Mass production at all cost”
  • Scenario 3 “Local survivors”
  • Scenario 4 “Food and sustainability for all”

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/629_205

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[1] With contributions from Alexandre Arcos Pujades, Estefania Lopez Montesinos, Esteban Pelayo; review by Jose Diogo Albuquerque, Jon Eldridge, Daniel Traon

Selection of figures:

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