Keith Roach is passionate when he talks about food security.
The Elanco district sales manager from Carmel, IN, says all too often when one talks food security, the conversations turn to the safety of food, “which is a whole different topic” he says.
When Roach passionately speaks of food security he says “I think of food security of going to bed and not having to worry about where the next meal is going to come from.” He is troubled by what he hears and reads from recent surveys. He cites a recent USA Today survey indicating one in seven Americans is food insecure, and NBC News recently showed that one in four U.S. military families is food insecure. “So the people who are fighting for us so we can be secure, one in four of their families are unsure where their next meal is coming from,” Roach says.
The food security issue is only going to get worse, and Roach uses three numbers to explain his point.
“Between now and 2050, 3 billion people will move in to the middle class,” he says. As people’s incomes improve, they look to improve their diets, and mostly that includes adding animal-based proteins.
With that influx into the middle class, Roach says that will result in a 60% greater demand for animal-based proteins, “in spite of what a lot of people will tell you on news, blogs, Twitter, gosh we would believe that everyone wants to be a vegetarian. One of the first things these people moving into middle class are going to do is say ‘that rice-based diet has been nice,’ but the first thing they’re going to want is a glass of milk, egg, a pork chop or a piece of fish. We know that; that’s as old as mankind.”
That’s a really good thing for the U.S. swine industry.
The 1.5 figure he throws out is a little sobering. “World Wildlife Fund would tell us that what we’re producing today requires 1.5 planet earths,” he says. “Here we are in August, so that means that for this year we’ve already used up what we can produce for the year,” he says. “So what the environmental groups will tell us, we need to decrease our footprint … so the question will be how can we continue to grow more with less.”
These three numbers together mean “we have a pretty tight window of time to figure this out.”
Without technology, by 2050 to meet the new dietary demands, the world will need 50% more pork, 710 million more pigs, using twice as much more resources, Roach says. Revisiting the 1.5 planets earths already needed, that means agriculture will have to produce more with less. Roach says U.S. pork production is leading the way in innovation that can meet the demand of a higher animal-based protein diet in the future.
Obviously producers play a big role in this production of food, doing it better and more efficiently. But, what producers can also do is to tell the story of what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. Roach wants farmers to be as passionate as he is when it comes to talking about food production and the methods they use.
“We need to help people understand what it takes to create safe, affordable food,” Roach says. “We need to hear from you.” Roach reiterates the emphasis that producers need to tell their story, because if they don’t, people with other agendas will be telling the agriculture story. “People with full stomachs cannot make decisions that will impact those with empty stomachs,” he says.