World could run out of food in 10 years

Filed under: World |

1 Sep, 2017

The world could be facing a food shortage in just 10 years, according to an agricultural data technology company.

Gro Intelligence founder and chief executive Sara Menker says previous calculations about food supply have focused on mass and weight, not nutritional value – and this is where things become problematic.

Previously the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation has predicted that the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050 and the world needs to produce 70 per cent more food to feed all these extra people.

But at a TEDGlobal event Arusha, Tanzania, Ms Menker said if you looked at the nutritional value of current food production instead, global food security was more tenuous than originally thought.

According to Quartz, Ms Menker believes the year 2023 will be the crossover point when we will no longer be able to produce enough food to feed a growing population.

She has estimated that by 2027, there could be a 214 trillion calorie deficit, which is the equivalent of 379 million Big Mac burgers.

Demand will be driven by population and economic growth in China, India and African countries. While population growth is expected to slow in China, the population’s appetite for red meat, a very high-calorie food, will contribute to shortages.

“Why do we talk of food in terms of weight?” Ms Menker said at the TEDGlobal event.

“Because it’s easy. But what we care about in food is nutritional value. Not all foods are created equal even if they weigh the same.”

Ms Menker said data and knowledge were becoming cheaper by the day and were the most critical tools for success in the industry.

“We have the solution. We just need to act on it.”

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