Status of the sector, future trends in production and consumption, and implications
Technological developments have allowed remarkable progress in agricultural output per unit of land, increasing per capita food availability despite a consistent decline in per capita agricultural land area (high agreement, much evidence). However, progress has been uneven across the world, with rural poverty and malnutrition remaining in some countries. The share of animal products in the diet has increased progressively in developing countries, while remaining constant in the developed world (high agreement, much evidence).
Production of food and fibre has more than kept pace with the sharp increase in demand in a more populated world, so that the global average daily availability of calories per capita has increased, though with regional exceptions. However, this growth has been at the expense of increasing pressure on the environment and dwindling natural resources, and has not solved problems of food security and widespread child malnutrition in poor countries (high agreement, much evidence).
The absolute area of global arable land has increased to about 1400 Mha, an overall increase of 8% since the 1960s (5% decrease in developed countries and 22% increase in developing countries). This trend is expected to continue into the future, with a projected additional 500 Mha converted to agriculture from 1997–2020, mostly in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa (medium agreement, limited evidence).
Economic growth and changing lifestyles in some developing countries are causing a growing demand for meat and dairy products. From 1967–1997, meat demand in developing countries rose from 11 to 24 kg per capita per year, achieving an annual growth rate of more than 5% by the end of that period. Further increases in global meat demand (about 60% by 2020) are projected, mostly in developing regions such as South and Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa (medium agreement, much evidence) [8.2].