Globalization of food systems in developing countries: impact on food security and nutrition

Type Book Section - Globalization of food systems in developing countries: a synthesis of country case studies
Title Globalization of food systems in developing countries: impact on food security and nutrition
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
Page numbers 1-25
Publisher Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
City Rome
Country/State Italy
The phenomenon of globalization is having a major impact on food systems around the world. Food systems are changing, resulting in greater availability and diversity of food, although access to this food is by no means universal. Many of these changes are closely associated with urbanization, increasing incomes, market liberalization and foreign direct investment. Competition for a market share of food purchases tends to intensify with entry into the system of powerful new players such as large multinational fast food and supermarket chains. The losers tend to be the small local agents and traditional food markets and, to some extent, merchants selling “street foods” as well as other food items. The supermarkets bring with them significant improvements in standards of food quality and safety at competitive prices and convenience, factors which are highly attractive to an increasingly sophisticated consumer. Thus these changes in food systems affect availability and access to food through changes to the food production, procurement and distribution systems and the food trade environment. In turn this is bringing about a gradual shift in food culture (towards a more universal one), with consequent changes in dietary consumption patterns and nutritional status that vary with the socio-economic strata. Indeed, the lower socio-economic population groups drift towards poor-quality, energydense but cheap and affordable foods. The main drivers to changes in food systems and dietary patterns, such as urbanization, increased income, capital flow and market liberalization, have been discussed by others (de Haan et al., 2003; Haddad, 2003; Popkin, 2003; Reardon et al., 2003; Lang and Heasman, in press). This paper looks at the impact of globalization and increasing urbanization on dietary and physical activity patterns and their effect on nutritional status and health.
First a conceptual framework of the determinants of these profound changes to food systems in the societies of developing countries is provided. The remainder of the paper draws upon and summarizes observed dietary changes and their resulting impact on nutritional status from 11 case studies in Latin America (Brazil, Chile and Colombia), Asia (Bangladesh, China, India and the Philippines), Africa (Nigeria, the United Republic of Tanzania and South Africa) and the Pacific (Fiji).

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