This is what we will be eating in 30 years’ time: seaweed, plant-based “meat” and insects

4 min. reading
Investment, Market news, New Gen, Nutrition, Private banking, Vegetarianism / 20 December, 2023
This is what we will be eating in 30 years’ time: seaweed, plant-based “meat” and insects

Communications

A quinoa burger, seaweed spaghetti or cookies made from cricket-based flour. These are the foods that we will keep in our refrigerator, according to the experts. Population pressures and climate change are ushering in a food revolution in the next few years: our diet will not be the same as it is now. 

The planet is facing a huge challenge over the next three decades, as population growth combines with climate change mitigation. These two opposing forces have a major impact on the way we eat, or rather the food we eat. The next few years will therefore bring a food revolution that will transform the diets of millions of people.

On the one hand, the UN forecasts that the planet will have more than 10 billion inhabitants by 2050; that is 2 billion more than at present. At the same time, the fight against global warming is forcing many governments to implement sustainability measures. In fact, around 200 governments have agreed to back the ambitious Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). This historic framework proposes to preserve 30% of Earth’s land and aquatic habitats, while aiming to meet 23 specific biodiversity-related goals by 2030.

A revolution in farming

That figure of 10 billion inhabitants may sound somewhat hollow. However, it means the world needs to increase the amount of food it produces by 56%, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Unfortunately, the Earth’s resources are finite and there simply isn’t enough surface area to produce that amount of food. To tackle this problem, the concept of smart farming has emerged.

This initial step in the process of change involves making agriculture more efficient by using technology (AI, satellites and big data) to ramp up global food production by 8.5%, according to the study From Traditional to Smart: Exploring the Effects of Smart Agriculture on Green Production Technology Diversity in Family Farms, published by the College of Economics and Management, Northwest A&F University (China). However, this appears to fall well short of the food revolution that is needed.

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New foods

The real change will be in what we eat and will be achieved as new foods come onto the market, such as lab-grown meat, seaweed and edible insects.

In the case of lab-grown meat, consultants AT Kearney forecasts that by 2040, 60% of meat will be grown from cells or made from plant products. The same study states that this would translate into a market share of 35% within two decades. 

Seaweed is not new. After all, a number of the species of creatures inhabiting the Earth have been eating some of its more than 140 edible varieties for the last 8,000 years. The stand-out feature of seaweed is that, not only does it provide a source of plant-based food, but it also mitigates the effect of climate change by capturing CO2 from the atmosphere.

According to estimates by the Australian Seaweed Institute, the market for seaweed-based dietary supplements could attain an annual value of $1.5 billion  by 2040. This industry could generate up to 9,000 jobs and contribute to a 10% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Eating insects may be the least appetizing option of all. But these tiny critters could be a way to mitigate climate change, slashing emissions by 95% and energy consumption by 62%. However, these foods are likely to be introduced in the form of processed products such as flour or protein bars. 

Other foods are poised to disappear. Of these, two are among everyone’s most loved and widely consumed products, namely chocolate and coffee. According to Oxfam Intermón, cocoa cultivation could be eradicated within the next 20 years. By 2050, the area suitable for coffee cultivation will have halved due to a combination of drought and rising global temperatures. This decline is one of the consequences of climate change.

More transformation milestones in the industry

In addition to the above, in the next few years the food industry faces the challenge of how to better manage water and waste. The proportion of the total available food that is lost or wasted throughout the production and supply chain is relatively constant worldwide and is estimated to be between 30% and 35%.

Seven unusual foods we will be eating by 2050

According to the World Economic Forum, seven foods that now sound exotic and unfamiliar will be staples in our diet in a matter of a few years. Foods like pandanus (or pandan fruit), Morama beans, fonio grain or ‘false’ bananas are highly residual seeds, fruits and vegetables whose characteristics mean they may become a popular mainstay in pantries and refrigerators.

Growth in food consumption by 2050

Source: Research Gate