International Food Security Assessment, 2011-21

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Outlook No. (GFA-22) 64 pp, July 2011

What Is the Issue?

The results in this report are based on projections of two key determinants of food security: Food production and import capacity of the countries. Domestic food production performance plays the most critical role in the food security of these countries, particularly for regions like Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa that depend on grain supplies. Conversely, imports play a significant role for regions like Latin America and North Africa that depend on positive trade terms. Since August 2009, prices of nonfood commodities (metals, agricultural, beverage, and industrial) have risen more than those for food. Therefore, for countries that export nonfood commodities and import food, food has become relatively cheaper. To understand how food production and import capacity impact food security, ERS researchers estimated and projected three measures of food security regionally and in each of the 77 developing countries for 2011-21. The estimates include the following:

  • The number of food-insecure people in each country;
  • The nutrition gap: The difference between projected food availability and the food needed to meet the average recommended nutritional target of roughly 2,100 calories per person per day; and
  • The distribution gap: The difference between projected food availability and the food needed to increase consumption in food-deficit income groups within individual countries to meet the recommended nutritional target.

What Did the Study Find?

• Despite higher global food commodity prices, strong domestic food production coupled with low price transmission from global to domestic markets contributed to a decline in the number of food-insecure people from 861 million in 2010 to 852 million in 2011.

  • Asian countries are projected to see a decrease in food-insecure people of 6 percent, while the distribution food gap will decline by about 9 percent.
  • North African (NA) countries will see no change, assuming that the performance of their economies and food markets remains the same.
  • The Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) region will see only a slight increase.
  • The number of food-insecure people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is estimated to increase by 17 million and the distribution gap to fall by 0.6 million tons.

• The number of food-insecure people is projected to decline by 16 percent, or nearly 140 million between 2011 and 2021.

  • Asian and LAC countries will see a 33-percent decline in the number of food-insecure people.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will see a 6-percent increase in the number of food-insecure people.

• The distribution food gap is projected to decline by nearly 7 percent during the next decade.

  • SSA shows an increase in its food gap, up roughly 20 percent. This, coupled with a 6-percent increase in the number of food-insecure people, indicates an intensification of food insecurity among that region's poor.
  • The distribution food gap is projected to decline by half in Asia and by 35 percent in LAC. No distribution gap is projected for NA.

How Was the Study Conducted?

All historical and projected data were updated relative to the Food Security Assessment, 2010-20 report. Food production estimates for 2010 were based on data from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as of February 2011. Historical production data came from FAO and food aid data came from the World Food Programme (WFP). Financial and macroeconomic data were based on the latest World Bank data as of February 2011. Projected macroeconomic variables were either based on calculated growth rates for the 1990s through the late-2000s or came from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank projections. Projections of food availability include food aid, with the assumption that each country will receive the 2007-09 average level of food aid throughout the next decade.

Last updated: Sunday, May 27, 2012

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