Could We Run Out of Food? The Food Supply in 2050

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What will the world look like in 2050? Well, for starters, the world population is expected to surpass 9 billion people — it should reach 9.1 billion, according to a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). According to the Worldometer world population counter, the population as of the time of writing is around 7.258 billion, and it is rising as you read this. In addition to the increase in the amount of people on Earth, more people will live in urban areas, as this is where most of the population growth will occur. Incomes will increase dramatically, and overall, we as a human race will need more of a food supply to feed all of our members.

Population growth and change

The FAO acknowledges three primary drivers for increasing food demand: population growth, rising incomes, and increasing urbanization. To meet this demand, food production must increase by 70 percent, annual cereal production will need to rise from 2.1 to 3 billion tons, and annual meat production will need to rise by over 200 million tons. Can this be achieved?

We’re dealing with a few billion more people in the next 35 or 40 years. But when you take a second to think about it, population growth is by no means a new problem. “The world population growth rate rose from about 1.5 percent per year from 1950-51 to a peak of over 2 percent in the early 1960s due to reductions in mortality. Growth rates thereafter started to decline due to rising age at marriage as well as increasing availability and use of effective contraceptive methods,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During the later half of the 20th century, the population doubled over a 30-year time frame. Fortunately for us, though, agricultural production was able to outpace population growth. In the early 1960s, global food supplies for human consumption yielded 2,300 calories per person per day, according to the FAO. “By 1994, global food supplies for human consumption had climbed to 2,710 Calories per person per day.”

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