Food Wise 2025

Chapter 2 - International Context


World population is expected to grow by over a third, or 2.3 billion people, by 2050, although this is a slower rate of growth than the one seen in the past four decades during which it grew by 3.3 billion people, or more than 90 percent. Nearly all of this growth is forecast to take place in developing countries with sub-Saharan Africa’s population growing fastest (+114 percent) and East and Southeast Asia’s the slowest (+13 percent).

Population Growth

In addition to the projected overall global population growth, an estimated 3 billion consumers will join the middle classes over the next 20 years, with the middle classes in India and China estimated to reach in excess of 50% and 20% respectively of their total populations by 2050.  Value will  remain key to future purchasing decisions in these emerging middle income markets.

Shares of Global Middle-class consumption, 2000 - 2050

Feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 will require increasing overall food production by some 70 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels. Therefore, the demand for agricultural and seafood products is expected to remain firm over the next decade. Rapidly growing Asian economies are expected to account for the greatest share of additional consumption with their ever increasing middle classes, while saturated levels of food consumption and declining population growth rates will result in much slower consumption growth in North America and Europe. Changing consumer tastes and preferences in developed markets will, however,  lead to significantly higher growth rates in the consumption of food that meets specific requirements (e.g. sustainably produced, more natural characteristics, ‘free from ‘labelled, etc.). Substantial population growth in Africa will also drive significant increases in total global consumption.

Changing dietary preferences drive firm global demand for Protein

The demand for meat, fish and dairy protein products will increase substantially through the next decade, as higher income levels and increasing urbanisation in developing regions allow consumers to raise the level of protein intake in their diets relative to starches.

Global meat consumption is projected to increase by 1.6% p.a. through the next decade, resulting in more than 58 Mt of additional meat consumed by 2023. Consistent with the trend through the past decade, developing countries will consume more than 80% of the additional meat (predominantly poultry and pork), in part due to substantially higher population and income growth relative to developed countries, but also due to the fact that per capita meat consumption in developed regions is already high.

Demand for dairy products will continue to expand at a rapid rate through the next decade. Per capita consumption of dairy products in developing countries is expected to increase by 1.2% to 1.9% p.a., with the expansion in demand reflecting robust income growth and further globalisation. By contrast, per capita consumption in the developed world is projected to increase by between 0.2% and 0.9%.

Current FAO estimates, based on income and population growth, foresee a requirement for an extra 40 million tonnes of seafood by 2030. Seafood consumption will also benefit from the shift in global economic gravity towards the east where there is a strong cultural preference for seafood.