2. Food headlines in The Economist so far
Aug 07 Dec 07 Mar 08 Jun 08 Today
3. Overview of the Food Crisis
4. Who’s producing, who’s buying
5. Global warming will undo some traditional exporters
Union will export
N America will more
India tips over to
6. Vulnerable to supply shocks
• Most production is kept for domestic use, only a small amount is
traded. E.g. only 6.5% of rice is traded.
• Any tightening in supply e.g. crop failure in Australia from drought
would lead to a supply shock and lead to food price inflation.
7. Higher grain prices are passed down the chain
8. Food price rises hurt unevenly
9. Populations are expanding fastest where it is most difficult to
10. Farming accounts for 70% of water use. Water shortages
mean food shortages.
11. Asia’s new middle classes move up the food chain
• The new middle classes want more meat, dairy, eggs.
• China’s consumption will approximate the USA near 2031. Grain
consumption is projected to be two-thirds of current grain harvest and
four fifths of current world meat production.
Changing Eating Habits Pressure on resources
Meat consumption in China per capita
1980 2007 2031* 1,000 – 2,000 liters of
water are needed to
produce 1kg of wheat
5 kg of grain is needed
20kg 50kg to produce 1kg of beef
10,000 – 13,000 liters of water is
needed to produce 1kg of beef
*Approx US consumption today
12. Biofuels and Grain Prices
• Corn based ethanol is viable with high oil prices.
• This triggered a substitution effect, raising grain prices.
• International Food Policy Research Institute has shown that increased
biofuel demand is estimated to have accounted for 30 percent of the
increase in weighted average grain prices.
Simulated Real Grain Prices, 2000-2007
(US$/metric ton). IFPRI May 2008
13. The next Green Revolution?
14. Is the crisis over?
• The Food and Agriculture Organization reports that commodity prices
have started to fall, but they are not likely to drop to the low levels of
• Food production needs to rise by 50% by 2030, and double by 2050,
to meet the needs of rising population and new middle classes.
• Ag yields need to rise to avoid future turbulence.
15. Underinvestment in Ag leads to falling yields
• The original green revolution was based on better seeds, irrigation
and fertilizers. Grain production increased by 250%.
• Underinvestment in Ag due to rapid urbanization and industrialization
has led to falling yields.
• In the next phase of the green revolution, new solutions will have to
increase yields through better seeds while addressing resource
constraints in rising oil prices, water shortages and less arable land.
16. Future Seed
• GMO has been in the food supply for years and no harm has been
• Food stressed countries have gone big time into R&D and production.
• Watch out for future GMO powerhouses Brazil, China and India.
7m 15% increase
57.7m 6% 3.8m 9%
6.2m increase 0.3m 50%
Argentina S Africa
19.1m 6% 1.8m 29%
17. Vertical farming is a popular idea for cities
• Proposed by Columbia Uni. No prototypes yet.
• Estimate for 150 30-storey vertical farms to feed NYC (pop: 8 mil)/year.
• China, Abu Dhabi and Korea exploring vertical farming.
Pasona O2, Tokyo
18. Stem Cell fast food
• Currently costing $100,000 per kg! More than Kobe beef ….
• Meat processing companies hope to start selling affordable factory
grown pork within a decade.
19. Doomsday Vault for diversity preservation
• Genetic diversity is being eroded, making the need for genebanks
• There are 1,400 around the world now, but many are in unstable
• The World’s Seed Bank - Svalbard Global Seed Vault – is built in
Norway to house staple food crops. IRRI (Manila) is working in
partnership with them to conserve rice varieties.
21. New Agriculture is about IP, not land or labour.
Milling Conversion Blending End Use
Pulp Husking Modificatn
Fiber Crop Animal Feed
Grain Seeds Production Additives
Equipment Additives Processing Sales Logistics Retail Consumer
Adapted from ICAC Commodity Profile, IFPRI
22. Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (www.tll.org.sg)
Bollworm selective breeding
Higher yield rice Drought-resistant rice Yaoming trees for pulp
Salinity-resistant rice Rice, Pulp and Paper
Dr Stephen Cohen,
Executive Director of TLL,
elected as Fellow of the
23. Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (www.tll.org.sg)
24. Aquaculture is promising
• Aquaculture is expanding while marine capture fisheries have
reached a ceiling.
• The new Asian middle classes will demand more high-value fish as
incomes rise. Demand for hatchery-reared fingerlings will grow.
ST Oct 5, 2007
S'pore's very own super sea bass
Hatched in AVA's research tanks..
25. Fish farms provide half of world supplies in 2015
26. Rehabilitate degraded farmland
• Technologies to help food-stressed economies like China, India
expand the use of existing farmland, or rehabilitate degraded
farmland will be in great demand.
• What does it take to be a hub for R&D and reselling solutions. E.g. Sell
China’s drought/salt-resistant trees to ME.
..salt tolerant poplar tree soaks
up salt in China’s saline
wastelands (30 mil ha) ..the
land is arable after 10 years.
Bloomberg News 12 Sept ‘07
PRC Coastal protection program requires 100 mil salt resistant trees in next 10 years
27. A tropical gene bank in Singapore
• In a bio economy, gene diversity is the raw material for future wealth,
and a reliable gene bank is the most important resource for climate-
• A tropical gene-diversity bank can be a source of IP, R&D for agri-
asset and new material companies to develop new agricultural
Rice Gene bank,
28. Future: Laying the foundation for the bio economy
• Agricultural fields will assume the same significance as oil fields. Basic
raw materials will be genes.… Plants will be the raw materials for new
fuels, materials and medicines.
• Geopolitical power may well shift from desert-bare oil countries
towards tropical regions richly endowed with biodiversity.
• What does it take to be the world center for tropical bio-economic
The EU has invested large sums of money and manpower on becoming
a knowledge-based Bio-Economy by year 2025.