The increasing demand for agricultural products and the uncertainty of international food markets has recently drawn the attention of governments and agribusiness firms toward investments in productive agricultural land, mostly in the developing world. The targeted countries are typically located in regions that have remained only marginally utilized because of lack of modern technology. It is expected that in the long run large scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) for commercial farming will bring the technology required to close the existing crops yield gaps. While the extent of the acquired land and the associated appropriation of freshwater resources have been investigated in detail, the amount of food this land can produce and the number of people it could feed still need to be quantified. Here we use a unique dataset of land deals to provide a global quantitative assessment of the rates of crop and food appropriation potentially associated with LSLAs. We show how up to 300–550 million people could be fed by crops grown in the acquired land, should these investments in agriculture improve crop production and close the yield gap. In contrast, about 190–370 million people could be supported by this land without closing of the yield gap. These numbers raise some concern because the food produced in the acquired land is typically exported to other regions, while the target countries exhibit high levels of malnourishment. Conversely, if used for domestic consumption, the crops harvested in the acquired land could ensure food security to the local populations.