The future of food: how to feed a bigger world in 2030?

By 2030, the world will have 2 billion more people. To guarantee food for everyone, new production technologies are emerging, especially animal protein.

By 2030, there will be 2 billion more people in the world and a greater demand for food. More than 85% of this additional need will come from developing countries, such as Brazil, according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

If today 881 million people are hungry around the world, what can be done to feed an even larger number of people and thus meet target number 1 of the Millennium Development Goals in 2030?

According to FAO, the first response to this challenge will be to plant more. Still, more than 660 million people around the world will not have enough money to buy food and will remain malnourished at the beginning of the next decade.

“To create fairer food systems, we need to listen to small producers and rural communities and form broad partnerships that guarantee fair remuneration for all of them. A priority will be pricing that reflects the true cost of production and brings more financial resources to the most vulnerable rural communities”, said Gilbert Houngbo, president of IFAD (acronym in English for the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development) in opening event of the celebrations of World Food Day, celebrated on October 16th.

Another obstacle will be the environmental impact of the advancement of agriculture and animal husbandry, activities that are huge consumers of natural resources. The increase in water consumption for agriculture will be 14% in 2030, as revealed by FAO data. Today, the production of one kilo of beef consumes 15,400 liters of water, while the same amount of lettuce requires 240 liters and oranges, 80 liters, according to the NGO Water Footprint Network.

Therefore, experts point out that, in addition to improving technologies for more efficient cultivation, it will be necessary to think of other ways to increase access to food in the near future.

In this sense, it will be essential to transform food systems to reduce the cost of nutritious food and change our eating habits to have a healthier impact on both health and the environment, points out the study State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021, from FAO.

Joining forces against waste

When talking about the countryside, one of the most important points in combating hunger is developing solutions to reduce waste. “The food transportation chain from farm to table is so long that waste reaches 70%”, says Giuliano Bittencourt, founder of Begreen, which created, in 2017, the first urban farm in Latin America – and operates the urban garden installed at iFood headquarters in Osasco (SP).

Urban gardens, cultivated in unused spaces in buildings, schools, parking lots and other spaces in cities, are already a reality in Brazil and use technology to optimize the use of natural resources, have good productivity and make food reach those who need it most: those who live in peripheral areas of large cities. “Urban gardens reduce waste to 2%, and production consumes 90% less water”, adds Bittencourt.

Other factors that increase the waste of food that is in good condition are the disposal of fruits and vegetables that do not look perfect and the failure to use surplus food in industries, which do not reach market shelves in a timely manner. .

The meat revolution

At the Food Systems Summit 2021, the UN (United Nations) outlined six action paths to combat the challenge of providing everyone with the best food possible. These include ensuring access to nutritious food, changing consumption patterns to be more sustainable and optimizing the use of environmental resources in food production.

The concern with eating in a healthy way for the body and the environment is connected with the increase in consumer interest in so-called clean food, that is, foods that are less processed or whose production has a low environmental impact – a strong global trend even 2023, according to a study carried out by global consultancy Kearney.

Until then, there will be a “remarkable change in meat production”, points out the study. “The way we obtain proteins is on the verge of profound disruption. The most innovative and potentially game-changing investments are in cultured meats and alternatives to satisfy the demand for protein without the use of animal meat.”

But, to really change our habits at the table, we will need to have alternatives available. And one of the technologies that are advanced is the production of meat from other sources – such as insects, vegetables and tissues from the animals themselves, which are then grown in the laboratory.

“It is necessary to question how long animal husbandry will be sustainable, given that it consumes large quantities of food and water and has suffered from diseases that spread and compromise productivity”, comments Gustavo Guadagnini, executive director of The Good Food Institute Brazil, international NGO focused on transforming the food production system.

“The biggest problem in the protein production chain today is African Swine Fever, a disease that has killed pig populations in China, Eastern Europe and has reached close to the United States.”

He adds that even with the growth of vegetarianism and veganism, meat consumption has increased around the world – and in 2021 it should rise by another 1%, according to FAO. This is because, when family income increases, meat consumption also tends to increase.

Therefore, instead of convincing people to stop consuming this protein, the solution is to produce sustainable alternatives to animal meat. “Eating meat is linked to culture and our socialization. Brazilians won’t stop having barbecues”, says Gustavo. “The solution is to use technology, such as plant-based and cultured meat, to deliver the food that people like. This isn’t a fad, it’s the way we’re going to make food in the future.”

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