Melbourne’s foodbowl: Now and at seven million

Melbourne is located at the centre 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 key findings of this research include:
• Melbourne’s foodbowl includes multiple relatively small areas of food production scattered around the city fringe
• Melbourne’s foodbowl produces a wide variety of fresh foods, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, but also eggs and chicken meat, and some beef, lamb, pork and dairy
• Melbourne’s foodbowl produces around 47% of the vegetables grown in Victoria and around 8% of fruit
• Highly perishable foods, such as leafy greens and berries, are typically grown in the inner foodbowl, close to the city. The outer foodbowl produces a more diverse range of foods that includes fewer perishable foods, such as fruit and vegetables, but more livestock products and some oilseeds
• Melbourne’s population is predicted to grow to at least 7 million by 2050, and Melbourne will require 60% more food to meet the population’s needs
• By 2050, around 16% of the farmland in Melbourne’s foodbowl could be lost if current urban density trends continue, including up to 77% of farmland in the inner foodbowl
• Melbourne’s foodbowl currently produces enough food to meet around 41% of the food needs of Greater Melbourne’s population, but by 2050 urban sprawl could reduce the capacity of the city’s foodbowl, so that it can only produce enough food to meet 18% of the city’s food needs
• Melbourne’s foodbowl currently produces enough vegetables to meet 82% of Greater Melbourne’s needs, but by 2050, urban sprawl could reduce the capacity of the foodbowl to meet Greater Melbourne’s vegetable needs to around 21%
• If Melbourne is able to accommodate the predicted population increase in a way that contains urban sprawl and retains the city’s capacity for peri-urban food production, Melbourne’s foodbowl could contribute to a more resilient city food supply in the face of increasing climate pressures on food production

Associated space