Several disparate theories gradually formed and influenced the concept of food security. The age-old fear of being unable to feed a growing population recurs to this day. Until the late 1970s, food insecurity was explained by an imbalance between supply and demand. In the 1960s, in order to feed a population in full growth, emphasis was placed on the intensification of agricultural production. At the same time, industrial production intensified.
However, by the late 1970s, this concept proved its limitations and began to be questioned. Although there were sufficient food resources, poverty still prevented some people from accessing them. This finding remains valid today, as, in theory, current global production would appear sufficient to feed the world.
Food security became part of a complex socio-economic context, and linked to the fight against poverty. Economic growth proved essential. The focus turned to disparity and to the family and the individual. Everyone should have access to the food they need, by either using the land or disposing of sufficient spending power. Measures must be taken to upgrade family farms, and improve infrastructure, training and social welfare systems.
For some economists, food security is linked to the liberalisation of markets and to international trade. Some countries, which cannot ensure competitive food production but which have other resources at their disposal, would benefit from trading these resources for food on the international market. However, such dependency may prove burdensome if there are price fluctuations or political tension, for example.
Finally, nutritionists see a worldwide problem of malnutrition, which can only be solved if food is in adequate supply and also nutritious and safe. Food preferences also have their part to play, reflecting the hedonic, social and cultural aspects of the act of eating.