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This content is taken from the Stockholm Environment Institute's online course, Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Currently, feeding the global population is already a big task and a major achievement of many actors, especially smallholder farmers. Global food production is already putting a lot of pressure on natural resources. And this pressure is expected to increase due to two reasons. The first reason is population growth. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the population is growing rapidly. But also in Asia, the population is still expected to increase. The second reason for increased food demand is the expected growth in wealth and these higher household incomes, which often leads to fundamental changes in consumption patterns. These changes are also related to urbanisation and to supermarketisation.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds This is the fact that people buy more and more food in supermarkets instead of more traditional places, such as open markets. Generally, when household incomes increase, people consume more meat and processed foods. Due to the combination of population growth and higher meat consumption per person, the total meat consumption in Southeast Asia is expected to increase by 30% and in sub-Saharan Africa even by 35% in the next 10 years. As meat is a resource-intensive product, this will put additional pressure on natural resources. But there are more shifts– for example, from traditional food products to breads and processed foods, which will require higher food imports in certain regions.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 seconds Many of these shifts in consumption patterns are not happening spontaneously but are often caused by advertising, the rise of fast food restaurants, and supermarkets. These shifts in food consumption patterns can have major implications on human health as well. There are positive outcomes, like less undernutrition. But there are also more negative outcomes, such as diet-related diseases and obesity.

Changing consumption patterns

Food consumption patterns are changing. In this video, Henk Westhoek, of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, talks about recent and projected changes in consumption patterns, including in Southeast Asia.

Global food consumption patterns are changing in the face of population growth and economic development. As people buy more food in supermarkets, their food preferences may change from more traditional foods to processed foods. Such shifts can place increased pressure on natural resources due to the resource-intensive production and transportation requirements of these products. The growing demand for meat in Southeast Asia is also expected to have serious environmental impacts over the coming decade.

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This video is from the free online course:

Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia

Stockholm Environment Institute