2050: What will we be eating?

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In the November Issue of New Zealand Food Technology, Editor Kathryn Calvert asked for submissions on what the future of food would look like in 2050.

This is my prediction: Two underlying and divergent forces will shape what food looks like in 2050.

The first is increasing demand for high quality, convenient, & healthy foods – be they organic, functional, nutraceutical, therapeutic, or synthetic. ‘High-end’ food to appeal to those who can afford it.  The second is increasing demand for food – any food – to feed the 9.8 billion humans(1) predicted to be living on our planet in 2050. Projections suggest that overall food production needs to increase by ~70% over 2005/2007 levels to meet demand in 2050(2).

Different and novel approaches to food production are needed. The democratisation of technologies like genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and vertical farming will underpin the meeting of these diverging demands. No-one really wants to be eating the single-cell suspension/protein glop of sci-fi, but novel solutions to increase food production may still require we take a different view of what is on our plate/bowl/glass/beaker…

1. World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2. Global agriculture towards 2050 – FAOHigh Level Expert Forum, 2009.
This story first appeared in the 2018 Annual Directory of New Zealand Food Technology Magazine.