Over half the world's population could rely on food imports by 2050 – study
Published on 7 May 2013
Tomatoes from Spain, olive oil from Italy, plums from Chile, salmon from Alaska and green beans from Kenya – how often might some of these ingredients end up in your basket? In the UK most people's shopping trolleys contain a significant proportion of imported foods. But could these foods be grown and produced at home? Which countries are capable of food self-sufficiency? A new series of maps shows which countries could feed their entire population, and which countries are limited by lack of land or water.
Marianela Fader from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, and colleagues, calculated the growing capacity of every country in the world, and compared it with food requirements, both now and projected forward to 2050. Their model employed climate data, soil type and land-use patterns for each country, in order to simulate yields for a variety of types of crop. Using current data on population, and food and water consumption in each nation, they were able to assess what proportion of its food a country could produce.
Although many countries choose to import food right now, the model showed that there are surprisingly few that could not maintain the same diet and still be food self-sufficient. "Today, 66 countries are not able to be self-sufficient due to water and/or land constraints," said Fader. This equates to 16% of the world's population depending on food imported from other countries.