The future of food demand: understanding differences in global economic models
10 December 2013
Valin, H., Sands, R. D., van der Mensbrugghe, D., Nelson, G. C., Ahammad, H., Blanc, E., Bodirsky, B., Fujimori, S., Hasegawa, T., Havlik, P., Heyhoe, E., Kyle, P., Mason-D’Croz, D., Paltsev, S., Rolinski, S., Tabeau, A., van Meijl, H., von Lampe, M. and Willenbockel, D. (2014), The future of food demand: understanding differences in global economic models. Agricultural Economics, 45: 51–67. doi:10.1111/agec.12089
Understanding the capacity of agricultural systems to feed the world population under climate change requires projecting future food demand. This article reviews demand modeling approaches from 10 global economic models participating in the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP). We compare food demand projections in 2050 for various regions and agricultural products under harmonized scenarios of socioeconomic development, climate change, and bioenergy expansion. In the reference scenario (SSP2), food demand increases by 59–98% between 2005 and 2050, slightly higher than the most recent FAO projection of 54% from 2005/2007. The range of results is large, in particular for animal calories (between 61% and 144%), caused by differences in demand systems specifications, and in income and price elasticities. The results are more sensitive to socioeconomic assumptions than to climate change or bioenergy scenarios. When considering a world with higher population and lower economic growth (SSP3), consumption per capita drops on average by 9% for crops and 18% for livestock. The maximum effect of climate change on calorie availability is −6% at the global level, and the effect of biofuel production on calorie availability is even smaller.