There are major differences between food produced globally and recommended food consumption. Changing consumption patterns in rural and urban areas favor more processed foods, more carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and dairy products. The environmental consequences of producing food for current consumption trends with current conventional food systems are dire.
This section presents selected data on key trends within consumption:
- Production and consumption patterns of food
- Food demand growth
- Trends in malnourishment and obesity
- Trends in calorie and protein intake
- Emissions by type of diet
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Global Food Production vs. Recommended Diets
There are significant differences between the food currently produced by the global food system and what the global population needs in terms of recommended and balanced diets.
Growth in Commodity Demand
Per capita consumption of many commodities is expected to be flat (at a global level) for staple foods (cereals and roots) and meat. Population growth will be the primary determinant of food demand growth.
Regional Contributions to Food Demand Growth
The developing world is the source of the most demand growth for most commodities over the next 10 years, with cereal demand greatest from Sub-Saharan Africa and India.
While the absolute number of undernourished peoples is in Africa, the prevalence is highest in Africa.
Burden of Malnutrition
Malnutrition in all its forms contributes as much disease burden as the next 2-3 leading categories combined.
Source: Swinburn, B.A., Kraak, V.I., Allender, S., Atkins, V.J., Baker, P.I., Bogard, J.R., Brinsden, H., Calvillo, A., De Schutter, O., Devarajan, R. and Ezzati, M., 2019. The global syndemic of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change: The Lancet Commission report. The Lancet, 393(10173), pp.791-846.
Trends in BMI
The trend towards overweight and obese in global populations is increasing.
Source: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016. Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19· 2 million participants. The Lancet, 387(10026), pp.1377-1396.
Calorie Intake by Source
Overall, the average dietary energy supply in low and middle income countries is well below that of high income countries, but the gaps are closing gradually. Dietary patterns across all food groups are expected to converge, except for fruits and vegetables.
Protein Intake by Source
The daily per capita intake from animal products in low and middle income countries is projected to reach 22 g by 2030 and 25 g by 2050. For high income countries, protein intake from animal sources has remained almost constant since the 1980s.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Diet
Diets with ruminant meat are associated with higher emissions of GHGs, and dietary patterns with low environmental impacts can be consistent with good health.