Introduction to Alternative Foods

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In 2016, about 815 million people, or 11% of the world population, were undernourished.

Although advanced food and agriculture technologies have eased hunger issues, warnings of food shortages have escalated recently for the following reasons.

First, the world population is projected to grow from today’s 7.6 billion people to 10 billion by 2050.

If that rate of growth continues, food production will not be able to keep up with consumption.

Second, rapid urbanisation has created an unprecedented expansion of the middle class who can afford high-quality fresh food.

To meet that demand, intensive farming has become more widespread with increasing amounts of chemical inputs like pesticides.

In this context, potential food sources must be identified to satisfy future demand sustainably.

With a shared understanding of the potential food shortage, many startups are jumping into the future food industry for commercialisation.

Food enterprises are turning their attention to alternative sources as a new growth engine with a blue ocean strategy.

According to a 2016 report by Boston-based Lux Research, the market size for alternative protein is estimated to expand by at least 14% annually up to 2024.

One possible future food source is insects. Globally, there are 1,700 edible insect species, and more than 2 billion people already consume insects.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region like Thailand and PR China eat insects as part of the traditional diet.

The insect food market in North America, led by the USA, is also growing as consumer awareness and acceptance are gradually increasing.

Most insect food is richer in protein and lower in carbohydrates compared to meat.

Furthermore, raising insects requires fewer expenditures on transportation and facilities than conventional agricultural production, which lowers entry barriers for developing countries.

In addition to insects, clean food produced in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner includes “vegetarian meat.” Algae and seaweed are also being promoted as food sources.

In this course, you will learn about alternative food sources that are also known as future foods.

These food sources tend to be more environmentally sustainable and can be healthier than their counterparts.

Many of our current patterns of production and consumption of food need to change if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and promote sustainable development well into the future.

It is for this reason that many people – from NGOs to governments to the food sector – are searching for promising ways to make a major impact. 

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