The world produces a lot of food every year.
But, is there currently enough food in the world to feed everyone?
The answer is yes, but in this guide we provide some more information on where the food we produce goes and why people still go hungry.
Summary – Is There Currently Enough Food In The World To Feed Everyone?
- We have 7.7 billion people in the world today (as of 2019)
- We currently (as of 2019) produce enough food to feed about 10 billion people, or roughly just under 1.5x the current world population number (Huffpost.com)
How Many People In The World Face Extreme Hunger?
- As of 2016, 815 million people are hungry (also known as chronic undernourishment). (worldhunger.org)
- Another 2 billion are expected to join them by 2050. (medium.com)
- more than one-quarter of the planet’s 7.5 billion people suffer from malnutrition, and nearly 1 billion are chronically hungry (theguardian.com)
If There Is Enough Food In The World For Everyone, Why Do People Still Go Hungry?
Some of the main reasons include that food supply is not evenly distributed throughout the world (due to poverty and lack of resources/technology), and, even in poorer countries with lesser resources to farm effectively/productively and lesser money to buy food, there are issues with food waste because food transport and storage technology and equipment is not usually available.
- [the world food system does not have a] scarcity problem [so, producing more food is not necessarily a solution]
- This is evidenced by the fact that for the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth.
- The causes are related to poverty mainly, and also inequality of food distribution [and other flaws in the food system]
- Developing countries have resource poor farmers cultivating on very small plots of land [which severely impacts productivity and the ability to produce higher totals of food that developed countries do]
- Developing countries also have poor consumers – living on less that $2 a day – who can’t afford to buy food [food can account for 50-70% of income for the world’s poorest people, and four-fifths of the world’s poor live in rural areas]
- [unemployment and underemployment are huge causes of poverty, along with a weak or unstable economy]
- [resource poor farmers and consumers stuck in poverty with little money = a food system that doesn’t work as well as developed countries where there is an excess of resources, money and food]
- The bulk of industrially-produced grain crops in the world go to biofuels [for vehicles] and confined animal feedlots rather than food for the 1 billion hungry
- Half the food in the world is produced by 1.5 billion farmers working small plots for which monocultures are unsustainable.
- Our inability to feed the entirety of the world’s population is mostly due to food waste. Globally, 30–40% of all food is wasted [in developing countries this happens at the farm and supply level, whereas in developed countries much more waste happens at the consumer level]
- … this waste [in developing countries] is due to lack of infrastructure and knowledge to keep food fresh. For example, India loses 30–40% of its produce because retail and wholesalers lack cold storage.
- In the future, climate change might do more to keep people hungry than inefficient food systems or food waste
- Climate change can impact yield in a number of ways – the US Midwest Region, Brazil and Indonesia are all expected to be impacted and have their corn crop yields decreased in the future by climate change
- … many developing countries lack a strong cold chain infrastructure [controlled temperatures applied throughout the supply chain, from refrigerated warehouses to refrigerated trucks]. The result: a majority of food spoils en route to its destination.
- Take the example of an open-air flatbed truck transporting tomatoes in a warm climate such as India. By the time the truck reaches a local market or grocery store, much of the crop has been damaged or destroyed due to the heat, or has even fallen off the truck. A closed, refrigerated truck would save most, if not all, of those tomatoes.
In developed countries, food waste is much more likely to occur at the consumer level as a result of not eating the food we buy (due to a number of reasons), throwing it out, portion sizes that are too big, and so on. There is also waste at the supermarket level, particularly with fresh foods and baked goods.