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FOOD, LAND AND FUEL
Internationalization of Food
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/006189.html (accessed 25 January 2010)
http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_sr/?src=/Climate/ipcc/emission/105.htm (accessed 25 January 2010)
http://www.cnca.org.cn (accessed 25 January 2010)
http://www.waterfootprint.org (accessed 25 January 2010)
http://www.carbonfootprintofnations.com (accessed 25 January 2010)
The recent rise in consumer affluence in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China triggered major and well-documented changes in both production and consumer preferences. However, the impacts of these shifts have transcended the borders of these countries, and have also triggered profound changes in the agro-food economies of the less developed countries of Southeast Asia. The accompanying restructuring of the global food economy, offshoring of food sourcing and increased mobility, have all contributed to more diverse patterns of production and consumption in these countries.
Within this decade, Southeast Asia will have to contend with an ageing but healthier population, projected to increase to 700 million by 2030. Relatively young and increasingly affluent populations in Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam will contrast with Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, with their ageing populations, contributing to new and sophisticated market demands in relation to food quality and choice, standards, and traceability.
We can therefore anticipate the current love affair of Asian urbanites with Western fast food will intensify, with an explosion of franchised outlets in these emerging markets. However, this may not signal a future diet of junk food for Southeast Asians- on the contrary, it is likely that today’s strong health consciousness among Asian populations will become further embedded in Southeast Asian food culture, and be reflected in the rise of alternative healthy eating options such as “slow food”, organic and nostalgic lifestyle themes.
The role of technological innovation should also be noted, for example in expanding the diversity of foods available in retail and fresh food markets through food processing and packaging technologies to extend shelf life. Advanced ICTs will also play an increasingly critical role, serving as a gateway to precisely balance supply and demand within complex and time-critical supply chains.
So, on the consumption side, we can expect Asian diets over the next 20 years to become more varied and healthier, influenced not only by Western diets, but also by other Asian cuisines.
On the production side, the picture is far more complex, with climate as a major determinant. The UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts adverse impacts on future food security in the Asia Pacific region over the coming 10-20 years. Surface ozone, decreased availability of fresh water, higher temperatures and increased likelihood and severity of natural disasters are likely to lead to reduced net productivity. This impact will be compounded if as anticipated, energy costs continue their upward trend.
Moreover, recent pandemics such as SARS, H1N1, and avian influenza highlight the possibility of new emerging diseases and changes in infectious disease vectors that will add to health and food safety challenges for the region.
The “water footprint” and “carbon footprint” of the Southeast Asian region is far above the world average, particularly for Malaysia and Thailand. These human footprints will translate into higher food production costs in Southeast Asian countries in order to satisfy increasing demands for information of “food miles”, production methods and product origin. Food miles may act as an additional non-tariff barrier for Southeast Asia’s food producers and exporters.
In order to minimize these ecological footprints, farm operations will need to increasingly rely upon computerized farming and precision agriculture, especially to manage contract farming operations with many small contracted suppliers. In such operations, ICTs and sophisticated management information systems will be essential to minimize transaction and compliance costs, maintain safety and quality standards, and reduce the water and carbon footprints of upstream and downstream agricultural operations.
 Water footprint is an indicator of water use that includes both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer.
 Carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event or product. For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted.
 Food miles refer to the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer. Food miles are a factor contributing to the environmental impact of food.