Is domestic agricultural production sufficient to meet national food nutrient needs in Brazil?

João Pompeu* (Corresponding Author), Camille L. Nolasco, Paul West, Pete Smith, Jacqueline Gerage, Jean Ometto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Reducing the impacts of agriculture on the environment is one of the greatest challenges of this century. In Brazil, it is often argued that more land use change is needed to achieve food security. However, analyses seeking to understand the dynamics between agricultural production for exports and food intended for the Brazilian population have not approached the question if national agriculture is sufficient to provide Brazilians with the necessary nutrients, according to nutritional recommendations. In this sense, we sought to combine supply and dietary requirements for food (calories and nutrients) to assess trends in nutrient production and how future population projections and possible changes in diets would affect land necessity for nutritional security. We use sub30 national data on agricultural production, population, Food Balance Sheets from FAO, and a compilation of nutritional information on the Brazilian agricultural production. Our results show that, in the last three decades, Brazil produced enough food calories to feed on average 115% of its population. We found that the agricultural land in 2017, without any expansion, is sufficient to feed, at least, 105% of projected population in 2060, considering the same productivity and dietary patterns. In a vegan diet scenario, less than 10% of the land dedicated to agricultural production in the past 30 years would be required. Despite limitations on supplying certain micro-nutrients, a vegan diet would require even less land in the future. We conclude that Brazilian agriculture could deliver enough food to meet Brazilians’ nutritional needs without further land expansion. Food production is compatible with environmental conservation in Brazil, especially if meat consumption is reduced.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0251778
Number of pages17
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number5
Early online date20 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the valuable comments and suggestions made by Dr. James Gerber, as well as by the anonymous reviewers, which enhanced significantly the manuscript.

Data Availability: All relevant data are uploaded to the PANGAEA database and publicly accessible via the following URL:

Funding: J. P. received his doctorate scholarship from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). J. P., J. G. and J. O. were funded by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), in the scope of the Belmont Forum FACCE-JPI 2013 (process 2014/50627-2). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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