The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026 says that the completed replenishment of cereal stocks by 230 million tonnes over the past decade, combined with abundant stocks of most other commodities, should also help limit growth in world prices, which are now almost back to their levels before the 2007-08 food price crisis.
The report foresees per capita demand for food staples remaining flat, except in least developed countries. Additional calories and protein consumption over the outlook period are expected to come mainly from vegetable oil, sugar and dairy products. Growth in demand for meat is projected to slow, with no new sources of demand projected to maintain the momentum previously generated by China.
By 2026, average calorie availability is projected to reach 2,450 calories per person per day in least developed countries, and to exceed 3,000 calories in other developing countries. Food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms will nonetheless remain a persistent global problem, requiring a coordinated international approach, according to the report.
“The report foresees that the average calorie availability per person per day will increase in least developed countries and in most emerging economies,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO director-general. “But we also know that more food alone is not enough to eliminate undernourishment and other forms of malnutrition. Access to the additional calories is extremely important. More challenging is the fight against malnutrition: Fighting malnutrition requires a diversified, safe and nutritious diet, ideally produced with a lower environmental footprint.”
Future growth in crop production is projected to be principally attained through higher yields – 90% of the increase in maize production is expected to come from increased yields and just 10% from area expansion.
Growth in meat and dairy production, by contrast, is expected to come from both larger herds and higher output per-animal. Milk production growth will accelerate when compared to the previous decade, most notably in India and Pakistan. It is foreseen that aquaculture would dominate growth in the fish sector and farmed fish production will be the fastest-growing protein source among all commodities analyzed in the outlook.
The growth in agriculture and fish trade is projected to slow to about half the previous decade’s growth rate, and average less than 2% per year in volume terms for most commodities. Nevertheless, agricultural trade is expected to remain more resilient to economic downturns than trade in other sectors, according to the report. For nearly all commodities, exports are projected to remain concentrated in a few supplying countries, which may imply a greater susceptibility of world markets to supply shocks.
“Real prices of most agricultural and fish commodities are expected to decline slightly over the 10-year outlook period,” said Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the OECD. “As we have seen in the past, unexpected events can easily take markets away from these central trends, so it is essential that governments continue joint efforts to provide stability to world food markets. It is equally important that we look ahead as we seek to meet the fundamental challenge facing world food and agriculture: to ensure access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food for a growing world population, while at the same time using natural resources more sustainably and making an effective contribution to mitigating climate change.”