Future Melbourne: How city’s sprawl will affect food prices
Melbourne’s “foodbowl” currently meets 41 per cent of the city’s food needs, but that could plunge to just 18 per cent by 2050, as the population booms and urban sprawl eats into valuable farm land, research shows.
As the distance between farm and plate grows, prices are set to skyrocket, whilst freshness decreases (particularly for perishable items), farmers must travel further to reach their customers and there is an increased dependence on more distant sources, which are becoming increasingly unreliable due to a rapidly changing climate.
In a report on Melbourne’s food future, project head Dr Rachel Carey, from the University of Melbourne, says governments must choose now between housing or safeguarding some the state’s most productive land for food production.
“We tend to think of food as grown out in the regional areas, not around a city, so I think most people would be surprised to find just how much food actually grows on Melbourne’s fringe,” she said.
“Unless we start to plan the city differently and in a way that protects and retains that city foodbowl, we’re likely to be looking at less access to less locally grown food in future and the potential impact of that is a spike in food prices.”