By 2050, global food systems will need to meet the dietary demands of more than 10 billion people who on average will be wealthier than people today and will aspire to the type of food choices currently available only in high‑income countries. This food will have to be produced sustainably in ways that contribute to reducing climate change, and that address other environmental challenges. At the same time, human health is influenced more by food than by any other single factor, and facilitating healthy diets is critical both for individual well‑being and containing the costs of treating illnesses. It is widely recognized that the current trajectory of the food system will not allow us to meet these goals. The food system needs to change radically to address these challenges, and a very important part of this will be the adoption of new technologies, including the opportunities provided by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The food sector has been relatively slow at capitalizing on recent technological advances: for example, the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Innovation with a Purpose report showed that cumulative start‑up investments since 2010 are more than ten times greater for healthcare than for food. However, this does now seem to be changing and done of the areas attracting the greatest attention and investment is alternative proteins and meat substitutes.
How this sector will develop is far from clear, but thereis a possibility of genuine disruption in the near future.
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White Paper prepared by the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University for the World Economic Forum’s Meat: the Future dialogue series. January 2019