The entire food value chain and diet of low and middle income countries (LMICs) are rapidly shifting. Many of the issues addressed by the nutrition community ignore some of the major underlying shifts in purchases of consumer packaged foods and beverages. At the same time, the drivers of the food system at the farm level might be changing. There is a need for the agriculture and nutrition communities to understand these changes and focus on some of their implications for health. This rapid growth of the retail sector will change the diets of the food insecure as much as that of the food secure across rural and urban LMIC's. This short commentary contents that current research, programs and policies are ignoring these rapid dynamic shifts. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
► Agricultural pesticide use intensity was analyzed for 119 countries, using FAO data. ► A 1% growth in crop yields is associated with a 1.8% growth in pesticide use per hectare. ► Growth in pesticide use intensity levels off at higher income levels. ► Few high income countries have managed to decrease their pesticide use intensity. ► We recommend a package of measures for rationalizing pesticide use. We study levels and trends in agricultural pesticide use for a large cross-section of countries using FAO data for the period 1990–2009. Our analysis shows that a 1% increase in crop output per hectare is associated with a 1.8% increase in pesticide use per hectare but that the growth in intensity of pesticide use levels off as countries reach a higher level of economic development. However, very few high income countries have managed to significantly reduce the level of intensity of their pesticide use, because decreases in insecticide use at higher income levels are largely offset by increases in herbicide and fungicide use. The results also show very rapid growth in the intensity of pesticide use for several middle income countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Cameroon, Malaysia and Thailand. Complementing our analysis with data from the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC), we show that hazardous pesticides covered in the PIC procedure are more weakly regulated in lower than in higher income countries. We discuss the policy challenges facing developing countries with a rapid growth in pesticide use and recommend a four-pronged strategy, including an environmental tax on pesticides with revenues allocated to long-term investments in awareness building, the development of integrated crop management methods and the setting of food safety standards. The interactions between these measures should help contribute to the effectiveness of the overall strategy package.
Micronutrients are defined as substances in foods that are essential for human health and are required in small amounts. They include all of the known vitamins and essential trace minerals. Micronutrient malnutrition affects ⅓–½ of the global population. It causes untold human suffering and levies huge costs on society in terms of unrealized human potential and lost economic productivity. The goal of this paper is to identify deficiencies in the food system that lead to micronutrient malnutrition and explore and evaluate strategies for its prevention. We examine the impact of agricultural practices on micronutrients in the food supply, including cropping systems, soil fertility and animal agriculture. We then discuss the potential of biofortification – i.e. increasing the concentration of micronutrients in staple food crops through conventional plant breeding or genetic engineering– as a means to reduce micronutrient deficiency. In addition, we discuss the impact of food losses and food waste on micronutrients in the food supply, and we explore successful strategies to preserve micronutrients from farm to plate, including food fortification. Our review of the literature sheds light on the advantages and limitations of alternative interventions to reduce micronutrient deficiencies along the supply chain. We end with recommendations for actions that will reduce the prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition.
► The study addresses the potential and challenges of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils. ► Technical potential of C sequestration is 1.2-3.1Gt/yr. ► Increasing C pool in the root zone by 1t/yr can increase production in developing countries by 24-32 million t/yr for food grains and 6-10 million t/yr for roots and tubers. ► The strategy is to adopt conservation tillage, cover cropping, manuring, agroforestry, biochar and other amendments. ► Rather than subsidies, adoption of these technologies can be promoted by payments for ecosystem services. Soils of the world’s agroecosystems (croplands, grazing lands, rangelands) are depleted of their soil organic carbon (SOC) pool by 25–75% depending on climate, soil type, and historic management. The magnitude of loss may be 10 to 50 tons C/ha. Soils with severe depletion of their SOC pool have low agronomic yield and low use efficiency of added input. Conversion to a restorative land use and adoption of recommended management practices, can enhance the SOC pool, improve soil quality, increase agronomic productivity, advance global food security, enhance soil resilience to adapt to extreme climatic events, and mitigate climate change by off-setting fossil fuel emissions. The technical potential of carbon (C) sequestration in soils of the agroecosystems is 1.2–3.1 billion tons C/yr. Improvement in soil quality, by increase in the SOC pool of 1 ton C/ha/yr in the root zone, can increase annual food production in developing countries by 24–32 million tons of food grains and 6–10 million tons of roots and tubers. The strategy is to create positive soil C and nutrient budgets through adoption of no-till farming with mulch, use of cover crops, integrated nutrient management including biofertilizers, water conservation, and harvesting, and improving soil structure and tilth.
Surplus food management plays a key role in food waste reduction. This paper addresses the multifaceted concept of food supply chain sustainability by presenting a model of surplus food generation and management (called ASRW, Availability-Surplus-Recoverability-Waste), which encompasses the integrated food supply chain (i.e. business, environmental and social players). The model was developed using a bottom-up approach, by conducting 30 exploratory case studies and iterating theory development and data analysis. Three confirmatory case studies, from different food supply chain stages, are also presented to demonstrate how the model can be used to identify food waste reduction strategies.
► We conducted a nation-wide choice experiment to assess consumer preference for food safety attributes in urban China. ► We model heterogeneity in consumer preferences using a random parameters logit and latent class model. ► We find that consumers value direct government involvement in the food safety system more over other options. Food safety issues often arise from asymmetric information between consumers and suppliers with regards to product-specific attributes. Severe food safety scandals were observed recently in China. These events not only caused direct economic and life losses, but also created distrust in the Chinese food system domestically, as well as internationally. While much attention has focused on the problems plaguing the Chinese government’s food inspection system, little research has been dedicated to analyzing Chinese consumers’ concerns surrounding food safety. In this paper, we measure consumer preferences for select food safety attributes in pork and take food safety risk perceptions into account. Several choice experiment models, including latent class and random parameters logit, are constructed to capture heterogeneity in consumer preferences. Our results suggest that Chinese consumers have the highest willingness-to-pay for a government certification program, followed by third-party certification, a traceability system, and a product-specific information label. The results of this study call for the direct involvement of the Chinese government in the food safety system. A stricter monitoring system will not only improve consumer well-being in the short-run, but also restore consumers’ trust leading to a social welfare increase in the long run.
The importance of seed provisioning in food security and nutrition, agricultural development and rural livelihoods, and agrobiodiversity and germplasm conservation is well accepted by policy makers, practitioners and researchers. The role of farmer seed networks is less well understood and yet is central to debates on current issues ranging from seed sovereignty and rights for farmers to GMOs and the conservation of crop germplasm. In this paper we identify four common misconceptions regarding the nature and importance of farmer seed networks today. (1) Farmer seed networks are inefficient for seed dissemination. (2) Farmer seed networks are closed, conservative systems. (3) Farmer seed networks provide ready, egalitarian access to seed. (4) Farmer seed networks are destined to weaken and disappear. We challenge these misconceptions by drawing upon recent research findings and the authors’ collective field experience in studying farmer seed systems in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Oceania. Priorities for future research are suggested that would advance our understanding of seed networks and better inform agricultural and food policy.
The entire food value chain and diet of low and middle income countries (LMICs) are rapidly shifting. Many of the issues addressed by the nutrition community ignore some of the major underlying shifts in purchases of consumer packaged foods and beverages. At the same time, the drivers of the food system at the farm level might be changing. There is a need for the agriculture and nutrition communities to understand these changes and focus on some of their implications for health. This rapid growth of the retail sector will change the diets of the food insecure as much as that of the food secure across rural and urban LMIC’s. This short commentary contents that current research, programs and policies are ignoring these rapid dynamic shifts.
► The results show cooperative membership has a strong and positive impact on fertilizer adoption. ► The positive impact is larger for households with less education and found in remote locations. ► However, cooperative membership has limited impact on adoption of improved seeds and pesticides. Using cross-sectional data and a propensity score matching technique, this paper investigates the impact of cooperatives on adoption of agricultural technologies. Our analysis indicates that cooperative members are more likely to be male-headed households, have better access to agricultural extension services, possess oxen, participate in off-farm work, and have leadership experience. We also found that geographic location and age of household head are strongly associated with cooperative membership. Our estimation results show that cooperative membership has a strong positive impact on fertilizer adoption. The impact on adoption of pesticides turns out to be statistically significant when only agricultural cooperatives are considered. Further analysis also suggests that cooperative membership has a heterogeneous impact on fertilizer adoption among its members. The results suggest that cooperatives can play an important role in accelerating the adoption of agricultural technologies by smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.
Several food safety issues have prompted questions regarding the role of country-of-origin labeling, traceability, and food safety inspections in consumers’ perceptions of food safety and quality. The importance of origin-labeling and traceability have been discussed in the EU for some time. North American cases of mad cow disease have led to increased discussions of these topics in the US, however, relatively little research has been conducted to examine the value US consumers place on these attributes. Choice experiments were used to analyze US consumers’ relative preferences and willingness-to-pay for these meat attributes in labeled ribeye beef steaks. Relatively speaking, consumers value certification of USDA food safety inspection more than any of the other choice set attributes, including country-of-origin labeling, traceability and tenderness. As a result, indication of origin may only become a signal of enhanced quality if the source-of-origin is associated with higher food safety or quality.
Rapid economic and income growth, urbanization, and globalization are leading to a dramatic shift of Asian diets away from staples and increasingly towards livestock and dairy products, vegetables and fruit, and fats and oils. While the diversification of diets away from the traditional dominance of rice with rising incomes is expected and observed, current food consumption patterns are showing signs of convergence towards a Western diet. The diet transition is characterized by increased consumption of: wheat; temperate fruit and vegetables and high protein and energy dense food. Globalization and the consequent global interconnectedness of the urban middle class, is the driving force behind the convergence of diets. The rapid spread of global supermarket chains and fast food restaurants is reinforcing the above trends. The growing demand for diet diversity cannot be met solely by the traditional food supply chain. It requires the modernisation of the food retail sector, and the vertical integration of the food supply chain, in effect linking the consumers’ plate to the farmers’ plow. As a consequence, Asian agriculture is on an irreversible path leading away from its traditional pre-occupation with cereal crop production, especially rice, towards a production system that is becoming increasingly commercialized and diversified. This paper describes the determinants and trends in the diversification and Westernization of Asian diets. Implications of the evolving demand trends for food supply and retail systems are presented. The paper discusses the prospects for small farmer participation in the emerging food supply system, with a particular emphasis on Asian rice production systems. Finally, the paper considers emerging challenges for food policy, small holder welfare, and agricultural research and development priorities.
The objective of this study is to explore empirical evidence on the quantitative importance of supply, demand, and market shocks for price changes in international food commodity markets. To this end, it distinguishes between root, conditional, and internal drivers of price changes using three empirical models: (1) a price spike model where monthly food price returns (spikes) are estimated against oil prices, supply and demand shocks, and excessive speculative activity; (2) a volatility model where annualized monthly variability of food prices is estimated against the same set of variables plus a financial crises index; and (3) a trigger model that estimates extreme values of price spikes and volatility using quantile regressions. The results point to the increasing linkages among food, energy, and financial markets, which explain much of the observed food price spikes and volatility. While financial speculation amplifies short-term price spikes, oil price volatility intensifies medium-term price volatility.
This paper provides a critical commentary on the conception of food miles followed by an empirical application of food miles to two contrasting food distribution systems based on carbon emissions accounting within these systems. The comparison is between the carbon emissions resultant from operating a large-scale vegetable box system and those from a supply system where the customer travels to a local farm shop. The study is based on fuel and energy use data collected from one of the UK’s largest suppliers of organic produce. The findings suggest that if a customer drives a round-trip distance of more than 6.7 km in order to purchase their organic vegetables, their carbon emissions are likely to be greater than the emissions from the system of cold storage, packing, transport to a regional hub and final transport to customer’s doorstep used by large-scale vegetable box suppliers. Consequently some of the ideas behind localism in the food sector may need to be revisited.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda makes achieving food security and ending malnutrition a global priority. Within this framework, the importance of fisheries in local and global food systems and its contribution to nutrition and health, particularly for the poor are overlooked and undervalued. This paper reviews current fish production and consumption from capture fisheries and aquaculture, highlights opportunities for enhancing healthy diets and outlines key multi-sectoral policy solutions. Mirroring the call for a diversification of agricultural research and investment beyond a few staple grains, it is anticipated that productivity gains for a few farmed aquatic species will not suffice. Capture fisheries and aquaculture have a complementary role to play in increasing fish availability and access, and must be promoted in ways that support measurable nutrition and health gains. This paper argues that the lack of a nutrition-sensitive policy focus on capture fisheries and aquaculture represents an untapped opportunity that must be realised for ensuring sustainable healthy diets for all.
► We studied environmental impacts of food production and transport. ► Protein efficiency in terms of energy used and emissions of GHGs were obtained. ► Protein efficiency was much higher for plant-based foods than for animal-based. ► Plant-based protein efficiency increases with increasing protein content of the food. ► A more vegetarian diet greatly decreases impacts to feed a growing world population. The production, transport and processing of food products have significant environmental impacts, some of them related to climate change. This study examined the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and transport to a port in Sweden (wholesale point) of 84 common food items of animal and vegetable origin. Energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for food items produced in different countries and using various means of production were compared. The results confirmed that animal-based foods are associated with higher energy use and GHG emissions than plant-based foods, with the exception of vegetables produced in heated greenhouses. Analyses of the nutritional value of the foods to assess the amount of protein delivered to the wholesale point per unit energy used or GHG emitted (protein delivery efficiency) showed that the efficiency was much higher for plant-based foods than for animal-based. Remarkably, the efficiency of delivering plant-based protein increased as the amount of protein in the food increased, while the efficiency of delivering animal-based protein decreased. These results have implications for policies encouraging diets with lower environmental impacts for a growing world population.
An increasing set of evidence has been reported on how consumers could potentially react to the introduction of genetically modified food. Studies typically contain some empirical evidence and some theoretical explanations of the data, however, to date limited effort has been posed on systematically reviewing the existing evidence and its implications for policy. This paper contributes to the literature by bringing together the published evidence on the behavioural frameworks and evidence on the process leading to the public acceptance of genetically modified (GM) food and organisms (GMOs). In doing so, we employ a set of clearly defined search tools and a limited number of comprehensive key words. The study attempts to gather an understanding of the published findings on the determinants of the valuation of GM food – both in terms of willingness to accept and the willing-to-pay a premium for non-GM food, trust with information sources on the safety and public health and ultimate attitudes underpinning such evidence. Furthermore, in the light of such evidence, we formulate some policy strategies to deal with public uncertainly regarding to GMOs and, especially GM food.
The objective of this study is to explore the current strategies available to monitor and detect the economically and criminally motivated adulteration of food, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and recommend new approaches and policies to strengthen future capabilities to counter adulteration in a globalized food environment. There are many techniques used to detect the presence of adulterants, however this approach relies on the adulterant or means of substitution being “known” and no food item can ever be declared truly free of adulteration on that basis. Further techniques will verify the provenance claims made about a food product e.g. breed, variety etc. as well as techniques to identify original geographic location of food production. These consider wholeness, or not, of a food item and do not need to necessarily identify the actual adulterant. The conceptual framework developed in this research focuses on the process of predicting, detecting and reacting to economically and criminally motivated food adulteration.
High levels of meat consumption are increasingly being criticised for ethical, environmental, and social reasons. Plant-based meat substitutes have been identified as healthy sources of protein that, in comparison to meat, offer a number of social, environmental and health benefits and may play a role in reducing meat consumption. However, there has been a lack of research on the role they can play in the policy agenda and how specific meat substitute attributes can influence consumers to replace partially replace meat in their diets. In this paper, we examine consumers’ preferences for attributes of meat and meat substitute products and develop consumer segments based on these preferences. The results of a choice experiment with 247 UK consumers, using food labels and mince (ground meat), illustrate that the type of mince, fat content, country of origin and price are major factors that influence choice. Carbon footprint, method of production and brand play a secondary role in determining consumers’ choices of meat/meat substitutes. Latent class analysis is used to identify six consumer segments: , , , , and consumers which have different socio-demographic characteristics and meat consumption patterns. Future interventions and policies aimed at reducing meat consumption including labelling, provision of more information, financial incentives, educational campaigns and new product development will be more effective if they are holistic and target specific consumer segments, instead of focus on the average consumer.
The opportunity for smallholders to raise their incomes increasingly depends on their ability to compete in the market; yet there are many failures in rural markets in developing countries that make it difficult for them to do this. Understanding how collective action can help address the inefficiencies, coordination problems or barriers to market access is particularly important. This paper draws on the case studies in this special issue and on other literature to examine the conceptual issues and empirical evidence on the role of collective action institutions in improving market access for the rural poor. Applying insights from studies of collective action in natural resource management, the paper examines what conditions facilitate effective producer organizations for smallholders’ market access, with special attention to the characteristics of user groups, institutional arrangements, types of products (staples, perishables and other commodities), markets (local, domestic and international), and external environment. The paper also identifies policies and interventions that facilitate collective action for market access among smallholders, and examines whether the public sector, private sector and/or civil society is best positioned to provide such interventions.
Food self-sufficiency gained increased attention in a number of countries in the wake of the 2007–08 international food crisis, as countries sought to buffer themselves from volatility on world food markets. Food self-sufficiency is often presented in policy circles as the direct opposite of international trade in food, and is widely critiqued by economists as a misguided approach to food security that places political priorities ahead of economic efficiency. This paper takes a closer look at the concept of food self-sufficiency and makes the case that policy choice on this issue is far from a straightforward binary choice between the extremes of relying solely on homegrown food and a fully open trade policy for foodstuffs. It shows that in practice, food self-sufficiency is defined and measured in a number of different ways, and argues that a broader understanding of the concept opens up space for considering food self-sufficiency policy in relative terms, rather than as an either/or policy choice. Conceptualizing food self-sufficiency along a continuum may help to move the debate in a more productive direction, allowing for greater consideration of instances when the pursuit of policies to increase domestic food production may make sense both politically and economically.