Posts Tagged ‘Food and Agriculture Organization’

What food crisis?

July 16, 2013

In 1961 the world population was just over 3 billion. Now it is 7 billion. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s 2013 Statistical Year Book is now out and shows that during this period:

Agricultural production has increased  

  • Global crop production has expanded threefold over the past 50 years, largely through higher yields per unit of land and crop intensification.
  • Global per capita food supply rose from about 2 200 kcal/day in the early 1960s to over 2 800 kcal/day by 2009
  • Buoyed by high commodity prices, agriculture has demonstrated astonishing resilience during global economic turmoil. In 2010, agricultural value-added at the world level rose by 4 percent, in contrast to a 1 percent increase in overall GDP.


So while population has increased by a factor of 2.3, the food available per person has increased by about 30%. Of course there are many millions who still suffer from malnutrition but this is primarily due to poverty and a failing of distribution systems. It is not the availability of food which has failed. The proportion of the population which is under-nourished continues to steadily decline.


What food crisis? Global food prices drop 7% while UK study says half of all food is wasted

January 10, 2013

Back in July the World Food and Agriculture Organsiation was warning about run-away food prices and a potential world food crisis. Yet two reports today would suggest that alarmism about food is just as unreal as that about man-made global warming:

1. Economic TimesGlobal food prices fell by 7.0 per cent in 2012 from the level the previous year, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday, assuaging worries a few months ago that the world could be heading for a food crisis. 
The FAO added that prices had fallen in December for the third month in a row. 
The Rome-based FAO’s Food Price Index averaged 212 points in 2012, a drop of 7.0 per cent owing largely to falls in the prices of sugar, dairy products and oil. 
According to the FAO’s index, a monthly measure of changes in a basket of food commodities, prices dropped in December by 1.1 per cent to 209 points, down for the third month from the 263 points registered in August. 
“The result marks a reversal from the situation last July, when sharply rising prices prompted fears of a new food crisis,” said Jomo Sundaram from FAO’s Economic and Social Development Department. 

2. BBCAs much as half of the world’s food, amounting to two billion tonnes worth, is wasted, a UK-based report has claimed.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said the waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness. The study also found that up to 30% of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance. The institution’s Dr Tim Fox said the level of waste was “staggering”.

The report said that between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year went to waste. It suggested that half the food bought in Europe and the US was thrown away. Dr Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population – as well as those in hunger today. …..

It only reinforces the view that the world will be well able to feed its 9 billion + people by 2050. But being able to will not ensure that everybody is fed. There will no doubt be distribution issues and food supplies may not be equitably available to all the world’s population. There will still be cases of starvation and malnourished children even if more people  than ever before will be adequately fed and clothed. But there will be no catastrophic global food crisis.

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