"In the next 37 years, humans will have to produce as much food as they have in the last 8,000 years combined," said Jason Clay, senior vice president, World Wildlife Fund, as he tackled the challenge of feeding the growing global population with a number of thought-provoking positions at Biomin's first-ever American Nutrition Forum.
Clay cited the speed of change, which has become our new reality: "During the industrial revolution it took the UK 150 years to double the GDP of 9 million people; it took China 12 years to double the GDP of a billion people - lifting 400 million people out of poverty," he said, noting China's government-driven push to bring an additional 250 million people out of rural areas, converting half of the country's farmers (i.e. 10 percent of the world's farmers) into city dwellers.
This shift will have "huge implications" as they begin to spend more money on food. Clay posed the question: "What happens when animal protein moves from 10 percent of global calories to 20 percent?"
He suggested that the only way to create a sustainable food supply is for all stakeholders to work with industry to figure out how to intensify efficiently and "freeze the footprint of food" to avoid draining the world's scarce resources.
For the feed industry - and animal agriculture in general - the solution for upping this "intensity" lies in technology and innovation.
Events like Victam Asia, a trade show for animal feeds in South and Southeast Asia in 2014, bridge the efficiency gap though information exchange and a global dialogue. The event's FIAAP conference schedule, for example, supports sustainability by presenting the latest advances in disease management, nutrition and animal welfare - issues which ultimately affect the ability to efficiently utilize the world's finite resources.
By combating inefficiencies through knowledge share, the stakeholders in the animal feed industry can decrease its environmental impacts and support long-term sustainability. The answer to feeding the world in by 2050 lies in the collective ability to produce more with less - but to do it responsibly and efficiently as part of a global effort.