Analysis n° 27 - February 2011 Demand for food in 2050: figures, uncertainties and leeways

“By 2050, global agricultural production must increase by 70% , and double in the developing world, in order to meet the demand from a population of nine billion”. This assertion, based on the work of FAO, is frequently brought out in debates on food security, usually without making it clear that this is simply a conjecture based on a number of assumptions. However, other strategic foresight studies exist and comparison of four of these reveals a wide range of estimates of future demand for food, and especially for animal products. These differences stem from very different hypotheses for major variables : demographics, economic growth and dietary regimes. Substantial uncertainty surrounds each of these, radical shifts are possible, and means do exist that can be brought to bear.
The changing level of demand for food is also responsive to more immediate issues such as public health, the environment and development. Although the question of how to increase food production to meet future demand is often asked, it is equally crucial to look at how that demand can be shaped.

Demand for food in 2050: figures, uncertainties and leeways (PDF, 402.62 Ko)

The notes published in the CEP Analyses series are 4 to 8 pages evaluative or prospective briefs aimed at the general public. Based on research reports, studies, expert opinions or data analysis and statistics, they propose an overview of a topical issue and favor comparative approaches. 

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