How to feed 10 billion people?
By 2050, it’s expected that some 10 billion people will be living on Earth. To feed all of them a balanced diet and prevent world hunger and malnourishment, food production will need to grow by 50 percent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Investments in agriculture are increasing and a wide range of technological innovations are boosting productivity. Even so, crop yield growth is falling short of the level necessary for securing world nutrition in the long term. What’s more, today’s food production and agriculture are negatively impacting the environment, resulting in deforestation, overfertilization, water scarcity, soil erosion, a decline in biodiversity and a high level of greenhouse gas emissions. Only a transformation towards more sustainable food production and agriculture will enable food security to be achieved without transgressing the boundaries of our ecosystem.
Consumers in the driver’s seat of the nutrition transformation
Our personal dietary habits are changing. Particularly in industrialized countries, consumers are taking a growing interest in the origin, ingredients and CO2 footprint of the food they eat, as well as in the conditions under which it was produced. Over 50 percent of Germans are already seeking out products with eco, fair trade and animal welfare labels. Which means consumers are driving the transformation of the market.
Innovative scenarios are becoming more and more realistic, from growing meat in a test-tube as a climate-friendly alternative to eating insects as a more sustainable protein source. At the same time, today more people around the world are overweight than underweight. What’s more, food allergies and intolerances have been on the rise for years now. Companies from the food sector not only need to face these changes but also actively shape the necessary transformation.
Companies as solution providers in the food sector
Purchase decisions have long ceased to be based on price, taste and consumer-friendliness alone. The biggest driver of this change is the consumers’ heightened awareness of healthy eating, food safety and the environmental impact of food production. Consumers are increasingly demanding and initiating transparency regarding products and the complete value chain. Companies are faced with these demands for transparency and sustainably produced food. What’s new is that these expectations are no longer merely being directed at the large food companies of the world. They’re also being reflected along the complete value chain—from agriculture to the processing industry and all the way to retailers, including aspects such as transportation and recycling. Companies need to recognize which challenges are relevant for them and then integrate them early on into their business processes. Because it’s only in this way that, in a changing sector, they can remain competitive for the long term.