Indian Food Demand and Supply Projections to 2030
Source: Flickr, ADB

Food demand in India is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades thanks to large population and income increases, expanding urbanization, and dietary changes. Simultaneously, India’s food self-sufficiency is expected to face significant challenges due to decreasing rates of agricultural productivity growth, scarce natural resources, and climate change. A recent chapter in International Trade and Food Security: The Future of Indian Agriculture estimates food demand and supply projections for India for 2020 and 2030.

The projections modelled are based on various data sources, including household data on dietary patterns and consumer expenditures provided by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) and data on population and GDP growth from the Registrar-General of Census and the Central Statistical Organization. Using 2010 as a baseline, the chapter estimates food demand in 2020 and 2030 for various food grains (rice, wheat, pulses and coarse grains) and high-value commodities (oils, animal products, and horticultural products) under three GDP growth scenarios (current, low, and high GDP growth). Similarly, using 2010 as a baseline, the chapter estimates the domestic supply for the same food grains and high-value commodities under three different scenarios (current rates of GDP and agricultural productivity growth, a 50 percent increase in agricultural productivity growth, and a 50 percent decrease in agricultural productivity growth) in 2020 and 2030. Based on these demand and supply estimates, the chapter highlights potential domestic supply-demand surpluses and deficits for the various crops covered.

The study estimates that India’s overall demand for food grains will increase from 236.2 million tons (Mt) in 2010 to 272-277 Mt in 2020 (272 Mt under the low-growth scenario, 274 Mt under the current growth scenario, and 277 Mt under the high-growth scenario) and to 303-318 Mt in 2030 (303 Mt under the low-growth scenario, 310 Mt under the current growth scenario, and 318 Mt under the high-growth scenario). Demand is expected to grow fastest for pulses at 1.96 percent per year to 2030 under the current scenario (increasing from 18 Mt to 26 Mt), followed by wheat at 1.6 percent per year (increasing from 83 Mt to 114 Mt), coarse grains at 1.3 percent per year (increasing from 36 Mt to 46 Mt), and finally rice at 1.1 percent per year (increasing from 98 Mt to 122 Mt). The study estimates higher growth rates for high-value agricultural products.  For instance, the demand for edible oils is projected to increase from 13.6 Mt in 2010 to 17 Mt in 2020 and 21 Mt in 2030 under the current growth scenario. Similarly, the demand for vegetables is expected to increase from 124 Mt in 2010 to 154 Mt in 2020 and 192 Mt in 2030 (representing a 2.2 percent annual increase). The chapter also estimates high demand growth rates for meat, fish, sugar, and milk products.

The domestic supply of food grains will increase from 234 Mt in 2010 to 278-283 Mt in 2020 (278 Mt under the low productivity growth scenario, 281 Mt under the current productivity growth scenario, and 283 Mt under the high productivity growth scenario) and 328-348 Mt in 2030 (328 Mt under the low productivity growth scenario, 338 Mt under the current productivity growth scenario, and 348 Mt under the high productivity growth scenario). More specifically, India’s rice supply is expected to grow from 95 Mt to 122 Mt in 2030, wheat supply from 84Mt to 128 Mt in 2030, pulses from 16 Mt to 26 Mt in 2030, and coarse grains from 39 Mt to 64 Mt in 2030. Regarding the domestic supply of high-value commodities, the chapter estimates that the supply of edible oils will increase from 8.2 Mt to 12.5 Mt in 2020 and 19.1 Mt in 2030 and that the domestic supply of vegetables (after post-harvest losses) will increase from 106 Mt in 2010 to 141 Mt in 2020 and 160 Mt in 2030.

Based on these results, the chapter calculates the supply-demand deficit or surplus expected for each commodity in 2020 and 2030. It estimates that India will experience an overall surplus in food grain production, between 4-8 Mt in 2020 and 17-37 Mt in 2030, depending on the specific demand and supply scenarios. However, this surplus masks significant variations per crop. Wheat is expected to reach a surplus between 4.8-6.6 Mt in 2020 and between 10-17.8 Mt in 2030, while coarse grains are expected to reach a surplus between 7.6-8.1 Mt in 2020 and between 15.7-18.1 Mt in 2030. Rice, on the other hand, is expected to see a marginal deficit (in relation to total consumption and production) between 2.7-5.1 Mt in 2020; depending on the scenario, rice may see either a deficit or 5.1 Mt or a surplus or 4 Mt in 2030. The chapter estimates a marginal supply-demand deficit for pulses, reaching between 1.2-1.3 Mt in 2020 and 0-0.5 Mt in 2030. For high-value commodities, the study estimates a significant supply-demand deficit for edible oils, reaching 4.4-4.6 Mt in 2020 and 1.7-2.6 Mt in 2030, and a significant supply deficit for vegetables, reaching 13.1 Mt in 2020 and 32 Mt in 2030. For the other studied food products, estimates see a significant supply-demand deficit for fruits, a marginal deficit for meat, a moderate surplus for fish and sugar, and a large surplus for milk.

These results suggest that, despite increases in food demand, domestic supply for main staples in India will likely be able to meet demand (although rice might have a marginal deficit depending on the scenario); however, these results also suggest that India will need to import significant amounts of vegetables, edible oils, and, to a lesser extent, pulses and meat in order to meet domestic demand. In this regard, the chapter argues that policies and investments to support increased agricultural productivity (including in irrigation, infrastructure, and agricultural research and inputs), especially in a context of scarce resources and climate change, are crucial to keep long-run balances between India’s food demand and supply.


By: Bas Paris

Photo credit:Flickr, ADB