Algae and insects: How to feed 9bn people a nutritious diet by 2050

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food vision asia Nutrition

David Marx from Berlin-based The Science Kitchen.
David Marx from Berlin-based The Science Kitchen.
Algae can become the world’s first ‘real superfoood’ and, along with edible insect products, help feed the growing global population in a more sustainable and nutritious fashion.

Speaking at Food Industry Asia’s AGM – which kick started our Food Vision Asia 2017 summit in Singapore – David Marx, the founder of Berlin-based food lab The Science Kitchen, said it would be possible to feed the 9bn people on the planet by 2050.

“Most views around this are very negative, so I want to turn this into something more positive,”​ he said.

“There is a food revolution going on in the world. There are so many new start-ups offering new services and solutions

“We will not only be able to feed the world in 2050, but we will eat better and more healthy than we do today.”

However, he pointed out there would need to be radical changes in production and consumption to achieve this.

He said 70% more food would have to be produced to meet demand, which translated in to 2% annual growth – something he said was impossible under the current practices.

“We have to freeze our agricultural footprint, we have to use land reserves better, use water more efficiently and shift diets away from ones based on meat to plants.

“We also need to reduce waste. If we half all waste by 2050, we’d only need 50% more production.”

Vast opportunities

He went on to highlight several nutrition and food trends which could help fill the gap.

He argued more work needed to be done to turn insects into products that not only looked good, but also tasted good, to boost consumption

“There are 1400 species edible to man, but most people have tried very few,”​ he added.

He also said there was vast opportunities for products derived from algae and seaweeds.

“Algae can become the world’s first real superfood. I truly believe this can become the world’s biggest crop industry. There are 10,000 type of seaweeds and at the moment we are working with just 40.”

In the subsequent panel discussion, Dr Iain Brownlee from Newcastle University in Singapore said products derived from algae could help meet the functional needs of South East Asia’s population.

“People are living longer and we hope they will be disease-free for longer. That’s a big challenge, especially because micronutrient intake is less than ideal while other people are consuming far too much.

“We have been working for 10 years to get to state where we can now test the efficacy of bread made from algae fibres,”​ he added.

We’ll have more coverage from Food Vision Asia over the coming days.

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