Delivering the Keynote Address at the 14th AquaVision, the global aquaculture business conference organised by Skretting and held in Stavanger, Norway, Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz, said that food is essential to human life and as a product, it must be provided to consumers in a stable and resilient way. Stiglitz remained “very optimistic” for the longer-term future of food, not least because of the great advances in science and technology.

But some of the main sources of the global food supply have not lived up to this fundamental requirement, he pointed out. “We are entering a period of increased complexity, where achieving that stability and resilience is going to be more difficult and so there needs to be a greater focus on risk management than may have been the case in the past.”

Stiglitz added that with regards to sustainability and establishing responsible food production, there’s also now a much greater emphasis on operating within safe environmental limits. “Over the years we have become more and more aware of those planetary boundaries. We have to learn to live with and respect them,” he said.

“We have the capacity to produce much more”

Recognizing that while society is in the midst of an unprecedented period of turbulence, with the covid pandemic being quickly followed by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and markets everywhere experiencing very high food prices as a direct result, Stiglitz believes there shouldn’t be any problems regarding the actual supply of foodstuffs.

Over recent decades the problem has been oversupply, with a major part of economic policy by governments in the United States and Europe to curtail the production of food and to get farmers not to grow,” he said, adding: “We have the capacity to produce much more.”

Stiglitz also maintained that not producing food sustainably would bring financial consequences, even in those instances where it comes with additional costs. “If we don’t commit to being green there will be an effect on climate change and that will make food more expensive. Our society is going to pay the cost one way or another – we need to take actions early and prevent what will happen if we don’t.”

The issue of distribution

At AquaVision 2022, Stiglitz also warned that there are serious problems with regard to distribution, as well as the form of food production and consumption. Whereas Europe and America have huge potential to produce more, Africa will have problems. Where food is and where people have the capacity to pay for it is the issue, he said.

According with Stiglitz, there’s also likely to be more market turmoil in the short term.

Changes in what we consume

“Historically, food shortages and high prices have led to increased volatility and political unrest. And at this moment in time, with these kinds of food price increases coming on top of the pandemic, we can expect an even more turbulent time than we have just gone through in the last two years.”

That said, Stiglitz remains “very optimistic” for the longer-term future of food, not least because of the great advances in science and technology. “We’ve seen it with renewable energy, and we are going to see it in food production with improved efficiencies”.

“There are also going to be important changes in what we consume. We see the trends. My students, for example, are increasingly moving from meat to fish, to vegetarian and to vegan,” he said.

Aquavision is organized for Skretting, a global leader in providing innovative and sustainable nutritional solutions and services for the aquaculture industry. Skretting has production facilities in 19 countries on five continents and manufactures and delivers high-quality feeds from hatching to harvest for more than 60 species. The total annual production volume of feed is more than 2 million tons. The head office is located in Stavanger, Norway. Skretting is the aquaculture business line of Nutreco, a world leader in animal nutrition.

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