Melbourne Foodbowl threatened by urban growth, Deakin and Melbourne University report

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th December 2015

StrawberriesWith Melbourne’s population expected to jump to at least 7 million by 2050, new research from a collaborative research project report “Foodprint Melbourne” says Melbourne will need 60 per cent more food grown in its region in order to support the future population with fresh foods.


The report was written by Deakin University and the University of Melbourne with Melbourne councils and other organisations involved. Their report called “Melbourne’s Food Bowl: Now and at seven million” was release on 8 December 2015.


Melbourne currently receives most of its fresh produce from areas just outside of the city referred to as the “Melbourne Foodbowl”. The foodbowl currently accounts for 47 per cent of vegetables grown in Victoria and 8 per cent of Victoria’s fruit.


The Melbourne foodbowl includes areas such as Bacchus Marsh, the Mornington Peninsula and Werribee. Although these areas  responsible for a high volume of Victoria’s vegetables, a wide variety of other foods comes from the Melbourne Foodbowl including eggs, poultry and some beef, lamb pork and dairy products.


Highly perishable produce like lettuce and berries are generally grown in the inner parts of this foodbowl region whilst other types of food are usually grown in the outer areas.


Property development puts food under threat


According to the report, it is estimated that by 2050, around 16% of the farmland in Melbourne’s foodbowl could be lost if current urban density trends continue, including up to 77 per cent 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,” the report continues.


“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%,” the researchers said.


The two-year old collaborative Foodprint Melbourne research project was funded by the following organisations:


  • Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL)
  • University of Melbourne
  • Deakin University Sustain
  • The Australian Food Network
  • Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation
  • City of Melbourne
  • Interface Councils
  • LeadWest
  • Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
  • Peri-Urban Group of Rural Councils
  • RDA Southern Melbourne
  • Wyndham City