A global report is claiming that an area equivalent to that already farmed in Brazil will be required over the next six years if the demand for food and fuel is to be met. The bold claim is being made by the United States-based McKinsey Group.

The international resource management consultancy has researched the amount of land needed to feed a growing world population and growing fuels from alternative sources.

According to the report, demand for protein across the globe will push for more crops to be grown to feed animals. This they claim will account for around 70% of all incremental cropland needed by 2030.

Crop production for direct human consumption will make up around 20% of the envisaged increase, while bio-fuel production will account for the remaining 10%.

This expansion in crop production will require 70-80Mha of additional arable land.

While the requirement calculated by McKinsey’s model represents less than 10% of additional crop land for feed stocks compared to today, it is still a significant ask.

Competition for available and suitable land parcels is already intensifying in many regions around the world.

The report states that around 60% of the earth’s habitable land is already used by humans. Further, they state pressure on land availability is emerging in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. These areas are likely to be the source of most additional cropland, where land and food prices could increase.

In a bid to meet and, wherever feasible, counteract the escalating demand for land, McKinsey underscores the necessity for the reclamation of degraded land, enhanced yield growth, and efficiencies derived from augmented trade.

Nevertheless, it appears that these measures alone may fall short, and proactive steps to diminish land demand, such as shifts in behavior, reduction of food wastage, and exploration of alternative overseas resources, are likely imperative for a sustainable land shift.

The report underlines that undertaking such actions would demand substantial investments from both public and private contributors.

The magnitude of these investments is anticipated to be noteworthy, encompassing the premium market value of arable land over grazing land, and the added value associated with safeguarding climate and biodiversity.

Yet, realising this vision will necessitate deliberate collaboration between public and private entities within the sector.

Nelson Ferreira, Senior Partner at McKinsey said:

“The world will need both sides of the supply, demand equation to strike a balance. Adverse climate conditions and other shocks to market dynamics could put even more pressure on supply than our conservative case assumes.

“Striking the balance is critical for both public and private sector players. Input providers need to know that land prices will increase by the end of the decade.”