The visualization provided by this program helps one understand this relationship. It provides a vivid demonstration of how the complex system involving income growth, population changes, and food consumption functions, he says.
The “floor” of the model is a map of the world that dynamically reflects changing consumption or production patterns and elasticities over time.
For example, as meat and poultry consumption rises in Asia with increased incomes, a greater demand is triggered for corn and soybeans to feed beef, pork, and poultry. Holding all factors constant, projections indicate that 120 million metric tons more of pork and poultry will be needed by 2030. This means 110 million metric tons more of soybean meal, 140 million metric tons of soybeans, and 62 million hectares of land to grow these additional crops.
“Not only can we not add land fast enough to meet this rapid rise in demand, but it would place a significant burden on our natural resources,” Goldsmith notes.
The Global Food in 3-D model can be used to demonstrate and understand how demand has changed for commodities and where production has been and is going. Poultry, for example, was a commodity largely consumed during the 1960s in the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. By 2007, new countries in other areas of the world were becoming major consumers and a radically different pattern emerged.
“In terms of consumption, poultry was until the 1990s largely a U.S. business,” says Goldsmith. After that, Brazil and China have become major players. China now consumes more poultry than the United States and is projected to consume 40 percent more poultry than the United States by 2030. Where will the grain to feed this poultry come from? This demand is placing a tremendous stress on crop production even without using crops for fuel.
The model allows users to make comparisons. What are the effects on markets when incomes are rising in Asia and what are the implications for the future?
“We also know that as incomes rise, consumers change their food choices. They go first from rice to meat and then in some countries move to high-end seafood, he adds. Other commodities stay basically flat in some countries. In the United States, for example, dairy consumption doesn''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''t seem to change while the big opportunities for dairy appear to be in South America. But each country, at each point in time, for each foodstuff can be unique and makes generalizations risky. “Hence, we felt there was a need for a software tool that employed visualization to help simplify a complex situation,” Goldsmith says.