Global Food Systems: Diet, Production, and Climate Change Toward 2050
To address food security in a food abundant world requires a new paradigm that walks away from a strict production perspective. While research on agriculture and food security has increased significantly in the past decades, it has mostly focused on agriculture and food production rather than on the entire food system, from production to nutrition intake. It has also typically employed economic equilibrium approaches to make future predictions. This study proposes a paradigm shift by, first, using a material flow approach to construct an integrated model to analyze global food systems and estimate food surpluses and deficiencies toward 2050 under climate change and, second, by including the range of the food security systems (production, access and utilization). It does so by considering production, demographics and diet scenarios across a number of commodities/crops important to guarantee future food security among developed and developing regions. In contrast to the economic equilibrium approach, the material flow approach takes into consideration populations without conventional market-driven economic access for better addressing the food security and equity issues. The results show that, while there will be a surplus in overall food production by 2050, mainly from cereal and starchy roots, there will be also critical shortages to other staples such as meat, milk, and sugar & sweeteners, important to utilization and nutrition. These findings suggest a need for significant modifications to current global agriculture production systems to meet actual demand and to enhance understanding about diet and its implications to global food systems.