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Nutrition Transition and the Structure of Global Food Demand

Christophe Gouel () and Houssein Guimbard ()

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2019, vol. 101, issue 2, 383-403

Abstract: Estimating future demand for food is a critical aspect of global food security analyses. The process linking dietary changes to wealth is known as the nutrition transition and presents well-identified features that help to predict consumption changes in poor countries. This study proposes to represent the nutrition transition with a nonhomothetic, flexible-in-income demand system. The resulting model is estimated statistically based on cross-sectional information from FAOSTAT. The model captures the main features of the nutrition transition: rise in demand for calories associated with income growth; diversification of diets away from starchy staples; and a large increase in caloric demand for animal-based products, fats, and sweeteners. The estimated model is used to project food demand between 2010 and 2050 based on a set of plausible futures (trend projections and Shared Socioeconomic Pathways scenarios). The main results of these projections are: (a) global food demand will increase by 47%, less than half the growth in the previous four decades; (b) this growth will be attributable mainly to lower-middle-income and low-income countries; (c) the structure of global food demand will change over the period, with a doubling of demand for animal-based calories and a much smaller 19% increase in demand for starchy staples; and (d) the analysis of a range of population and income projections reveals important uncertainties—depending on the scenario, the projected increases in demand for animal-based and vegetal-based calories range from 74% to 114%, and from 20% to 42%, respectively.

Keywords: Bennett’s law; food demand; food security; nutrition transition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: Nutrition Transition and the Structure of Global Food Demand (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Nutrition transition and the structure of global food demand (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Nutrition transition and the structure of global food demand (2017) Downloads
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