The world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, according to a report by the United Nations. The same report sounds a dire warning that the current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food will not be sustainable nor effective to feed everyone in the future and that the threat of a food shortage is imminent. At the same time, growing prevalence of health issues such as diabetes and obesity across the world pose a challenge for healthier food options.
What's with feeding 9.8 billion people?
With a growing food and beverage industry that contributes an estimated S$14.4 billion to GDP and employs close to 300,000 people, not including the food manufacturing sector that’s worth S$4.3 billion in 2017, Singapore has immense potential to be a leading food and nutrition hub in Asia. This is supported by positive factors such as its high standards of safety and quality, strong government support for innovation, high adoption rate of technology and a thriving entrepreneurial environment. Startups, unlike large corporations, possess the agility and speed to lead innovation in the food industry.
Food Security is a grave concern.
The governments in the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation, that is made of 21 countries, have started their focus on food security as a general theme in their summits. Food will become a scarce resource. The issue is not a sci-fi fantasy- it is real. There is real concern and affects all of us and our future. It could potentially be a issue of food security and if not handled well- can lead to war.
The Case of Singapore.
With many governments scrambling to find solutions, the Singapore government announced earlier in 2019 that it would aim to produce at least 30% of nutritional needs in Singapore by 2030.
Currently the city state uses less than 1% of its land on agriculture and imports more than 90% of its food from 170 countries. The consumption of 10 of the most common food items (leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruits, chicken, pork, fish, other seafood, mutton, duck and beef) amounted to 1.36 million tonnes in 2017. There is need to start planning ahead of the volatility of the global food market.
Singapore is looking at three key areas of focus of expertise, funding and extension cover sustainable urban food production , future foods and food safety science and innovation.