WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Forecasts for higher incomes and lower food prices are expected to translate into an improved food security outlook for 76 low- and middle-income countries between now and 2029, according to a new report from the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In its report, ”International Food Security Assessment, 2019-2029,” the ERS projected the share of population that is food insecure to fall to 9.2% in 2029 from 19.3% in 2019, and the number of food insecure people to fall 45%, to 399 million from 782 million.
The ERS also said that the food gap, which is the amount of food required to allow all food-insecure people to reach the caloric target of 2,100 calories per person per day, is projected to decline to 21.9 million tons from 33.5 million tons.
The ERS’s findings are based on results from its International Food Security Assessment model, which the agency describes as “a demand-driven framework that includes information on domestic prices and consumer responsiveness to changes in prices and incomes.”
The report assessed food security indicators for 76 low- and middle-income countries grouped into four regions: Sub-Saharan Africa (39 countries), North Africa (4), Latin America and the Caribbean (11) and Asia (22).
The ERS said more than 50% of the populations were estimated to be food insecure in 2019 in 14 of the 76 countries it examined. Haiti was considered the most food-insecure country in the western Hemisphere with 47% of its population said to be food insecure, the ERS said.
The sharpest decline in food insecurity is projected for the 22 Asian countries, the ERS said, with the share of food insecure forecast to drop by about 75% to 3.5% of the population, and the number of food insecure people projected to decline to 93 million from 333 million.
The ERS noted in the report that increases in food grain demand, as well as grain demand for feed and other uses, is expected to be met by domestic production and imports.
“Feed grain demand is projected to grow faster than food grain demand, as incomes rise and consumers can afford more animal source foods,” the ERS said. “Likewise, as incomes rise, diets diversify, and people obtain a smaller share of their caloric intake from food grains such as wheat and rice. As a result, grain demand on a per capita basis stabilizes and may even decrease. This trend is most noticeable in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Grains are typically staple foods for the world’s poorest consumers. Thus, as the population grows in the 76 countries studied, their total food grain demand increases by 30% (versus a 40% increase in other grain demand).”
Grain production for the 76 countries examined by the ERS is forecast to rise 1.4% per year between 2019 and 2029. The agency said production gains in most regions will come from better yields.