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Nutrition Transition and the Structure of Global Food Demand

Christophe Gouel () and Houssein Guimbard ()

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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. It 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: (1) global food demand will increase by 47%, less than half the growth in the previous four decades; (2) this growth will be attributable mainly to lower-middle-income and low-income countries; (3) 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 (4) 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: nutrition transition; food demand; food security; Bennett’s law (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-03-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr
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Published in American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019, 101 (2), pp.383-403. ⟨10.1093/ajae/aay030⟩

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Journal Article: 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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DOI: 10.1093/ajae/aay030

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