Food security is the state achieved when sufficient food of adequate quality is consistently available to meet consumer demand at affordable prices.
The world is living in an era of food security challenges. No one is likely to be immune from the consequences of our success or failure to develop markets, logistics infrastructure and the technology to provide more people with more of the food they require.
Population growth and higher incomes will contribute to a predicted 50-70 per cent increase in food demand by 2050, with production increases of 25-70 per cent needed to meet that demand. A growing global affluent middle class is the key driver of consumption since the turn of the century, overtaking population growth as the leading cause. In addition to consumption, diet quality is also changing, with increasing levels of protein consumption demanding to be satisfied.
Food supply is also under pressure. Climate change, water scarcity, conflict and the cost of energy heighten the uncertainty about the future. The IPCC predicts that global food supply will decrease with the increase in magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events disrupting food chains. This will lead to rising instability in global grain trade and international grain prices, affecting particularly the approximately 800 million people living in extreme poverty.
Recent crises have further affected the EBRD region. The Black Sea region, which has enormous potential to produce and export more, and to benefit net food importers in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, has been disrupted due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Urbanisation and lack of investment are also hampering growth in supply. Structural vulnerability in agricultural and food systems in the EBRD regions remains a challenge, as does establishing sustainable production and supply to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The EBRD believes that a strong and productive private sector is vital for increasing both market supply and the efficiency of global food production and distribution. Our work seeks to overcome constraints to supply and efficiency through investments, policy dialogue and coordinating action with our partners.
There are numerous ways the countries where the EBRD invests can have an impact on global food security. The Bank can continue to support the Black Sea region in food production and export, in order to benefit net food importers in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. Furthermore, countries across the Western Balkans, eastern Europe and the Caucasus have a valuable opportunity to raise their food quality, sustainability and safety standards, which will improve supply to both local and higher-value export markets such as the European Union.
Investments, public-private policy dialogue and innovation are needed to fulfil such regional potential. The private sector can play a decisive role in helping bridge the growing divide between demand and supply and thereby guarantee global food security.