Global Outlook

When I see the words 'high-level expert forum', my heart usually sinks. But this time the words were not just hype, this was serious stuff. The subject was how to feed the world in 2050. Most of us will not be still reading MTJ then, but I suspect that the Global Outlook correspondent of the day will be covering a totally different international scene.

With the world's population growing to nine billion, demand for food will nearly double and agriculture will be under incredible pressure to provide, while competition for land and water will mean that production systems will have to be much more efficient than they are now. In many instances, fewer people will be living in rural areas and there will be fewer farmers.

The EU Parliament is determined that the future of the CAP must favour production. It is becoming evident that the European meat industry in the main also favours a linkage between CAP funding and the number of animals produced.

Feeding so many at affordable prices will also call for international trade to be part of the solution. The experts see a smoothly running global food market, which will help iron out local variations in supply.

From a European standpoint, we can never be self-sufficient in meat and poultry, and the pathways for quality imports must be kept open. Developing countries will need a flourishing and reliable export marketplace to enable their own economies to grow.

Most of us welcome this realistic assessment of the place for international trade. The much-quoted phrase 'food security' does not mean 'self- sufficiency'. There is much to do to meet future needs.

Despite all our present economic and business worries, we are fortunate to be in a growth market in the long term.