Melbourne’s Foodbowl: Now and at 7 million

Melbourne is situated at the heart of a highly productive agricultural area – it is a city surrounded by its own foodbowl.

This report from the Foodprint Melbourne project explores the capacity of Melbourne’s foodbowl to feed Greater Melbourne now and with a projected population of 7 million in 2050. It is the first project of its kind in Australia to model the capacity of a city foodbowl and the impact of urban sprawl on production in the foodbowl.

The report covers the following topics:

Melbourne’s foodbowl

Melbourne Foodbowl Map

Melbourne is surrounded by an abundant foodbowl which produces a diverse range of food.

Of Victoria’s agricultural production, the food bowl is responsible for:

  • 12% of dairy production
  • 47% of vegetable production
  • 81% of chicken meat production

and a large proportion of a number of other crops. Section 2 of the report provides detail about this topic.

The capacity of Melbourne’s foodbowl to feed Melbourne

Feeding Melbourne for a day requires around 15,000 tonnes of food – 3.45kg per person per day. Significantly more food needs leave the farmgate than is eaten, because a lot is wasted, lost during processing, or spoiled.

Melbourne’s foodbowl produces enough food to meet 41% of the city’s food needs, although for some crops this is much higher. For example, the foodbowl can produce enough vegetables to meet 82% of the city’s current vegetable needs.

See Section 3 of the report for a full breakdown of the foodbowl’s capacity to meet Melbourne’s food needs.

Feeding Melbourne in 2050

By 2050 Melbourne’s population is likely to swell to at least 7 million, meaning the city will need 60% more food. As the population increases, there is a risk that urban sprawl could pave over some of the foodbowl’s most productive areas.

If Melbourne continues to sprawl on its current trajectory, farmland losses are likely to bring the foodbowl’s capacity to meet the city’s food needs down from 41% to only 18%

Section 4 of the report explains this point and provides a detailed breakdown of the potential losses.

Methodology and data sources

As an Australian-first study, the report also details methods and data sources used, and research challenges for this issue in Australia.