CHICAGO—To meet adequate food demands for the growing world population, supply must nearly double in the next several decades, according to a new Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) report presented at IFT’s 2010 Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago. Currently, the world’s food system provides food for nearly 7 billion people each day, but in order to meet future demand, IFT reported more advances must be made.
The review, to be published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, takes a historical look at the food system, the many challenges ahead, and the crucial role of food science and technology in meeting the needs of the growing population.
The presentation noted advances in food science and technology are necessary to meet the needs of an evolving society, which today has much greater access to an abundant, diverse food supply that is largely safe, flavorful, nutritious, convenient and less costly. The report summarized the historical developments of agriculture and food technology, detailed various food manufacturing methods and explained why food is processed. The report also described and stressed further advancements in food science and technology are needed to more equitably meet growing world population food needs with enhanced food security in developing countries.
According to the report, processed foods and beverages can have positive nutrient benefits beyond those of the raw or home-prepared product. “Some processed products are often a better value for the consumer than the fresh or raw product,” the authors wrote.
Food manufacturing also can also reduce the environmental impacts of the food system, and are often assessed and revamped to reduce waste. “Commercial food manufacturing operations are more efficient in the conversion of raw materials into consumer products than home processing and preparation,” the report said.
Biotechnology and nanotechnology also play an important role, as biotechnology has potential to improve food quality and nutritive value, and lower raw materials costs in an environmentally sustainable way. Also according to the report, Nanotechnology could enhance food safety, for example, through better bacterial detection and control methods.
The report also said food manufacturers can help address chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. The solutions to the diet-and-disease challenge (e.g., overweight and obesity) are complex, “and require a multi-pronged strategy from both the public and private sectors,” according to the report.