Rising food costs changing what people eat

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Diets throughout the world are changing because of the rising cost of food, according to a global opinion poll conducted by the independent research firm GlobeScan and released by Oxfam as part of its GROW campaign to ensure everyone always has enough to eat. Agriculture Ministers from the G20 group of countries, including US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, are meeting in France next week to discuss the global food price crisis.

The independent poll was conducted in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, UK and the United States.

Highlights include:

  • Fifty-four percent of people questioned globally and 56 percent in the US said they are not eating the same food as they did two years ago. Globally, 39 percent of people said their diet had changed because food is becoming too expensive and 33 percent cited health reasons. In the US, 31 percent of people cited the cost of food and 49 percent cited health reasons.
  • The rising cost of food was the biggest food worry with 73 percent of Americans and 66 percent of people globally citing it as one of their top concerns. Forty-three percent of people in the US and globally said the healthiness or nutritional value of the food they and their families ate was also a key concern.
  • In poorer countries, the availability of food was a much bigger concern with 57 percent of people in Kenya and 45 percent of people in Tanzania saying it was one of their top concerns.
  • Eight percent of Americans surveyed said they sometimes, rarely or never had enough to eat on a daily basis. This is compared to one in five people surveyed in developing countries, such as Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, Mexico, India, and Guatemala, who said that they sometimes, rarely or never had enough to eat on daily basis. In very poor countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, up to 21 percent of people said they rarely or never had enough to eat.
  • Rising oil and transport costs and the impact of extreme and erratic weather were most frequently mentioned by Americans as the main factors affecting food supply.
  • Pizza is the most popular food in the US, with 15 percent of Americans listing it as their favorite followed by steak, chicken and Mexican food.

The survey of more than 16,000 people, conducted by international research consultancy GlobeScan, also revealed how globalization is changing what people eat with pizza and pasta topping the list of favorite foods in many countries alongside national dishes. But the results also show the enduring importance to people around the world of staples like rice and wheat in the global food system, and of national cuisines in many countries.

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