One of the most referenced forecasts for food demand to 2050 is work carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), ‘World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050, The 2012 Revision’. This report predicted that if consumption patterns do not change, agricultural production will need to increase by 60% relative to 2005/2007 to meet food demand in 2050.
A further piece of research by the FAO, ‘The Future of Food and Agriculture – Alternative Pathways to 2050’ (FAO, 2018), analysed food demand to 2050 in more detail. This research, using a scenario approach, forecast an increase of between 25% to 75% in the demand for, and production of, agricultural products to 2050.
The ten year OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, published annually, gives a more short-medium term forecast of food demand. It brings together the commodity, policy and country expertise of both organisations and input from collaborating member countries to provide a consensus assessment of the ten-year prospects for agricultural and fish commodity markets at national, regional and global levels. The 2019-2028 Outlook is due for publication in early July.
While almost all forecasts of food demand growth indicate it will be driven by population growth, urbanisation, increasing per capita incomes, dietary patterns and consumer preferences, the Deputy will appreciate that projections and forecasts for markets and food demand are based on past information and assumptions about what will happen in the future. As a result, they are subject to substantial uncertainties.