Written by Alannah Smyth
Happy World Population Day! This day is celebrated to bring awareness to population issues, and while what we eat is often different we're all connected by the simple truth - a man (or a woman) has got to eat. With that in mind it's easy to see that food - producing enough of it, in the right type and in the right way is a big population issue. This article is a quick and simple overview of what types of food we produce, how this has changed already and may change in the future.
The global population is expected to pass 8 billion this year - just 11 short years after reaching 7 billion, and by 2050 it is predicted to hit 9.8 billion.
The number of people on the planet is growing, so naturally the amount of food being produced must surely be growing, but is it also changing? Or, in other words, is what we are eating starting to become different? Let's first take a quick look at the current world food production scene.
In a nutshell, from how it started (2000) to how it’s going now (2019)…
- Primary crop production has grown by 53% to a new record of 9.4 billion tonnes. Half of all of this is made by just four crops - sugar cane, wheat, maize and rice.
- Production of vegetable oils has more than doubled having now reached 201 million tonnes.
- Meat production had grown by 44% now sitting at a total of 337 million tonnes. Chicken was the most produced meat type, followed by pork and then beef.
- World fruit production has risen by 54% - an increase of 311 million tonnes.
- Sadly, despite the amount of food being produced increasing (and predictions for a shift in what we are producing), we are also seeing rising levels of food insecurity, malnourishment and hunger across the world. As of 2020 almost 770 million people were classed as undernourished - an increase of 160 million people since 2014. This is something which certainly wasn’t helped by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
What does future demand for food look like?
Whilst no one knows for sure, current modelling by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) suggests the following changes in food demand by 2050…
- Demand for staple foods like cereals and grains will grow slightly faster than the population.
- Demand for non-staple foods like meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables will grow much, much more rapidly to about 1.6 times our current demand. This is because less people are expected to be living in poverty and will likely have more diverse diets as a result.
- While diets in high income countries likely won’t change much, strengthening economies in low income countries will likely drive large changes overall. For example, demand (per person) for fruit and veggies in South Asia is predicted to more than triple, meanwhile, demand for meat, eggs and dairy in Sub-Saharan Africa is thought to increase by 70% - or possibly more.
What’s trending around the world in what to eat?
The shifting ways of eating that are changing our demand for food and production of food are also heavily influenced by popular trends in food. Food fads are always evolving and don’t necessarily make it to every country, meaning we may not even be aware of a new emerging trend in food depending on where we live. Here is a snapshot of The Food People’s educated prediction on what’s popular to eat around the world for 2021-22.
1. The mini splurge - to ease the pain of cutting back on big indulgences consumers are going to opt for small, simple upgrades to everyday things.
2. Comfort - the obsession with baking carries into 2022 alongside wholesome (and carb-loaded) dishes like pastas and slow cooked dinners.
3. Thrift rules - to save our back pockets and the planet we’ll be opting to upcycle our leftovers and cut back on food waste.
4. Home delivery - a new era in food is here, the age of home delivery. A pandemic-induced pivot has accelerated this revolution.
5. Fired up - flame grilled, char smoked or wood fired?
6. Power of the gut - a shift into eating a gut healthy diet is becoming more common as we all focus more on wellbeing.
7. Alfresco cooking and dining - quite self-explanatory...
8. Frozen - yet another food revolution happening under our noses is happening to increase shelf life and stretch out dollars.
9. Headspace - apparently consumers are now looking to food as a way to aid sleep, reduce anxiety and generally improve mental health.
10. Love your veg - unsurprisingly the unstoppable plant-based movement continues to be a major trend in the food world as consumers become more interested in vegan options.
If you’d like to read a little more about each of these trends then please find the full article here. Or, if you’d like to know what’s happening in food trends a little closer to home then you might be interested in this Unilever Food Solutions report on Australia and New Zealand Trends Report on emerging food trends.
World Population Day 2017: IFPRI models impact of population growth on demand for food | IFPRI : International Food Policy Research Institute
Population Growth and Food Insecurity
FAO Statistical Yearbook 2021 - World Food and Agriculture
STATISTICAL YEARBOOK WORLD FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2021
2022 - anz food trends
Top 10 New and Rising 2021-22