Global food security poses unprecedented challenges for humanity in terms of feeding the population and, at the same time, ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems. The coming decades will see increasing pressure on the global agri-food system as the global human population is predicted to continue to grow for the rest of the century (9.6 to 12.3 billion in 2100) (Gerland et al 2014). Greater per capita consumption, and westernization of diets (Pingali 2015), will intensify the competition for critical food inputs such as water, land and energy (Bird 2014). Climate change will also pose complex challenges to food and nutrition security and the sustainable intensication of food production (Golub et al 2013). The magnitude of the challenge is such that policy actions and investments are urgently needed across the entire food value chain in order to tackle demand, ensure sustainable intensication of food production and provide better governance to distribute food more equitably, as well as to enhance the resilience of the ecosystems (Grafton et al 2015a, McKenzie & Williams 2015).