15 June 2011 - People around the world are changing what they eat because of the rising cost of food according to a new global survey released today as part of the GROW campaign. Agriculture Ministers from the powerful group of G20 countries are meeting in France next week and will discuss the global food price crisis.
The public opinion poll was conducted in 17 countries including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, UK and the USA.
Fifty-four per cent of respondents overall and a majority of people in most countries surveyed said they are not eating the same food as they did two years ago—the period before the current food price crisis began. Globally 39 per cent of those who said their diet had changed blamed the rising price of food and 33 per cent cited health reasons.
In Kenya, for example, a staggering 76 per cent of respondents said they have changed their diet with 79 per cent blaming the price of food and, of the 46 per cent of people who said their diet had changed in the UK, 41 per cent said it was because of the rising price of food. Similar results were found around the globe (see notes).
Cost was also by far the biggest food worry with 66 per cent of people globally citing it as one of their top concerns. 43 per cent of people said that the healthiness or nutritional value of the food they ate was also a key concern. However in poorer countries the availability of food was much more of an issue with 57 per cent of people in Kenya and 45 per cent in Tanzania citing it as one of their biggest food worries.
Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam said: “Our diets are changing fast and for too many people it is a change for the worst. Huge numbers of people, especially in the world’s poorest countries, are cutting back on the quantity or quality of the food they eat because of rising food prices. World leaders—especially leaders of the powerful G20 countries—must act now to fix our broken food system. They must regulate the commodity markets and reform flawed biofuels policies to keep food prices in check, and they must invest in small scale producers in developing countries and help them adapt to a changing climate.”
The survey of over 16,000 people, conducted by international research consultancy GlobeScan, also revealed how globalisation is changing what people eat with pizza and pasta topping the list of favourite foods in many countries alongside national dishes. The only exceptions were African nations where traditional meals of maize continue to hold sway.
Oliver Martin, Research Director of GlobeScan said: “The consequences of the world-wide rise in food prices are very apparent in these survey results. The cost of food is by some distance the dominant concern that people have about what they and their family eat.”
Additional interviews conducted by Oxfam provide further evidence that many people in developing countries are either eating less food, eating cheaper items or enjoying less diversity in their diets as a result of rising food prices. Women tend to be disproportionately affected by rising food prices because they are responsible for feeding their families.
Glenda Marisela Galindo Castro, a 22 year old shop assistant from Guatemala said: “Sugar used to be the most important thing for us. We added it to our coffee and to soft drinks but now we can’t because the price of sugar has gone up. Oil which used to cost 5 quetzals for half a litre now costs 8. I’m the only one who works and the wages I earn are not enough to cover my families’ needs.”
Edson James Kamba, aged 69, from Malawi said: “My favourite food is rice with beans and meat but it is very expensive. The price of food keeps going up. I would like some milk to drink but I can’t buy it. I used to have margarine and jam with bread but now I can’t afford it. When I see people on TV they are always eating very good things like meat, chicken and eggs. If I was there I would have those things. We want it but we can’t afford it.”
Oxfam’s GROW campaign is starting a global conversation on how we can grow and share food better now and in the future. High profile people involved in the debate include former President Lula of Brazil, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, musician Angelique Kidjo from Benin and actors Gael Garcia Bernal from Mexico, Kristin Davis from the US, Amr Waked from Egypt and Hai Qing from China.
Former President Lula of Brazil said: “Like many Brazilians I like nothing better than a plate of rice, beans, steak, onions and eggs. But like many in Brazil I have experienced hunger. There were many times when I woke in the morning with no bread for breakfast and nothing to look forward to for lunch. That part of my life was very important because it gave me the strength to survive and determination to fight for an end to world hunger. It’s not acceptable that a child ever goes without a daily glass of milk. It’s not acceptable that a child has less than three meals a day. These are fundamental rights.”
“Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and one of our most basic human rights. It’s important we all get involved in the debate about how to change the way we grow and share food so everyone has enough to eat today and tomorrow. Oxfam’s GROW campaign is inviting people to join the debate now at www.oxfam.org,” said Hobbs.
In total 16,421 citizens in 17 countries, were interviewed online, by telephone and face-to-face between 6 April and 6 May 2011. The survey was conducted for Oxfam by the international research consultancy GlobeScan. The majority of the countries were surveyed online, while a few participated through telephone or face-to-face interviews. Online samples were structured to be representative of the online population in the country in question; in some countries this profile will differ from the national population profile due to lower levels of internet connectivity. Results of this research are considered accurate to within 2.1 to 4.4 per cent (depending on the country) of the true incidence in the population in question, 19 times out of 20 in each of the 17 countries.
|Country||Percentage of people who are no longer eating the same foods they did two years ago||Percentage of people who have changed their diet because of rising food prices||Percentage of people who have changed their diet because of health concerns|
Top 10 favorite foods globally: pasta (9 per cent), meat (6 per cent), rice (5 per cent), pizza (5 percent), chicken (5 per cent), fish and seafood (4 per cent), vegetables (3 per cent), Chinese food (2 per cent), Italian food (2 per cent) and Mexican food (2 per cent)
|Kenya||Ugali*||Mixture||Ugali and vegetables|
|Tanzania||Banana and meat*||Rice and meat||Rice and beans|
Gael Garcia Bernal, Oxfam Ambassador and Mexican actor said:
Angelique Kidjo, Oxfam Ambassador and West African musician said:
Kristin Davis, Oxfam Ambassador and US actor said:
Julie Goodwin, Australian cook and winner of Australian Masterchef said:
Hai Qing, Oxfam Ambassador and Chinese actor said:
Dolf Jansen, Oxfam Ambassador and Dutch Comedian, said:
Amr Waked, Oxfam Ambassador and Egyptian Actor said:
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working together in 98 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. www.oxfam.org
GlobeScan is an international opinion research consultancy. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for its unique expertise in reputation research, sustainability, and issues management. GlobeScan provides global organizations with evidence-based insight and advice to help them build strong brands, manage relations with key stakeholders, and define their strategic positioning. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard for its quality management system, and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in London, Toronto, and San Francisco. www.globescan.com