Consumption

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:

  1. Production and consumption patterns of food
  2. Food demand growth
  3. Trends in malnourishment and obesity
  4. Trends in calorie and protein intake
  5. 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.

Source: KC KB, Dias GM, Veeramani A, Swanton CJ, Fraser D, Steinke D, et al. (2018) When too much isn’t enough: Does current food production meet global nutritional needs? PLoS ONE 13(10): e0205683. 

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.

Source: OECD/FAO (2018), OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2018-2027, OECD Publishing, Paris/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

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.

Source: OECD/FAO (2018), OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2018-2027, OECD Publishing, Paris/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Undernourishment

While the absolute number of undernourished peoples is in Africa, the prevalence is highest in Africa.

Source: FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2017. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017. Building resilience for peace and food security. Rome, FAO.

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.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

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.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

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.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.