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3. Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends: Previous page | 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Table 5. Supply of vegetables per capita, by region, 1979 and 2000
(kg per capita per year)

Region

1979

2000

World

66.1

101.9

Developed countries

107.4

112.8

Developing countries

51.1

98.8

Africa

45.4

52.1

North and Central America

88.7

98.3

South America

43.2

47.8

Asia

56.6

116.2

Europe

110.9

112.5

Oceania

71.8

98.7

Source: reproduced from reference 13 with the permission of the publisher.

Figure 3. Trends in the supply of vegetables per capita, by region, 1970-2000

Source: reproduced from reference 13 the permission of the publisher.

WHO 03.21

3.7 Future trends in demand, foodavailability and consumption

In recent years the growth rates of world agricultural production and crop yields have slowed. This has raised fears that the world may not be able to grow enough food and other commodities to ensure that future populations are adequately fed. However, the slowdown has occurred not because of shortages of land or water but rather because demand for agricultural products has also slowed. This is mainly because world population growth rates have been declining since the late 1960s, and fairly high levels of food consumption per person are now being reached in many countries, beyond which further rises will be limited. It also true that a high share of the world’s population remains in poverty and hence lacks the necessary income to translate its needs into effective demand. As a result, the growth in world demand for agricultural products is expected to fall from an average 2.2% per year over the past 30 years to an average 1.5% per year for the next 30 years. In developing countries the slowdown will be more dramatic, from 3.7% per year to 2% per year, partly as a result of China having passed the phase of rapid growth in its demand for food. Global food shortages are unlikely, but serious problems already exist at national and local levels, and may worsen unless focused efforts are made.

The annual growth rate of world demand for cereals has declined from 2.5% per year in the 1970s and 1.9% per year in the 1980s to only 1% per year in the 1990s. Annual cereal use per person (including animal feeds) peaked in the mid-1980s at 334 kg and has since fallen to 317 kg. The decline is not a cause for alarm, it is largely the natural result of slower population growth and shifts in human diets and animal feeds. During the 1990s, however, the decline was accentuated by a number of temporary factors, including serious economic recessions in the transition countries and in some East and South-East Asian countries.

The growth rate in the demand for cereals is expected to rise again to 1.4% per year up until 2015, slowing to 1.2% per year thereafter. In developing countries overall, cereal production is not expected to keep pace with demand. The net cereal deficits of these countries, which amounted to 103 million tonnes or 9% of consumption in 1997-1999, could rise to 265 million tonnes by 2030, when they will be 14% of consumption. This gap can be bridged by increased surpluses from traditional grain exporters, and by new exports from the transition countries, which are expected to shift from being net importers to being net exporters.

Oil crops have seen the fastest increase in area of any crop sector, expanding by 75 million hectares between the mid-1970s and the end of the 1990s, while cereal area fell by 28 million hectares over the same period. Future per capita consumption of oil crops is expected to rise more rapidly than that of cereals. These crops will account for 45 out of every 100 extra kilocalories added to average diets in developing countries between now and 2030.

There are three main sources of growth in crop production: expanding the land area, increasing the frequency at which it is cropped (often through irrigation), and boosting yields. It has been suggested that growth in crop production may be approaching the ceiling of what is possible in respect of all three sources. A detailed examination of production potentials does not support this view at the global level, although in some countries, and even in whole regions, serious problems already exist and could deepen.

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