The future is tech

Food prices are soaring, wealthier Asian consumers are westernizing their diets, and farmers, let alone the nations of the third world, cannot keep up the pace. With the world population set to hit 9 billion by 2050, the urgency for another Green Revolution is becoming more and more pressing.

According to the UN, global food prices rose 35% last year, noticeably accelerating an upturn that began in 2002. To date however, prices have risen by 65%, bringing much needed attention to the crisis facing world food production and consumption. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s world food index, dairy prices rose nearly 80% in 2007 alone, while grain prices rose by 42%.

What is interesting about these statistics, secondary to the alarming prospect of food availability that they imply, is their divergent trend. The phenomenal growth in dairy prices, that are nearly double that of grain, illustrate the impact of changing Asian diets on global demand. The emergence of China’s middle class has massively increased demand for not only basic commodities, but also high protein foods, such as meat and dairy products, as well as luxury processed products, like soft drinks and chocolate and confectionery.

The past five years have seen rapid growth in the contribution of Asian nations to the Global Fluid and Powdered Milk Manufacturing industry, which now account for more than 30% of production, while China alone accounts for more than 10% of Global Fruit and Vegetable Processing and Preserving industry production and consumption. The trend is similarly evident in industries such as Soft Drink and Bottled Water Manufacturing, as well as Global Cocoa, Chocolate and sugar Confectionery Manufacturing, forecast to grow by 5.7% and 10.0% respectively during 2008 in response to soaring demand in China and Southeast Asian markets.

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