Food Consumption Patterns and Implications for Poverty Reduction in Pakistan

Publication Year : 2015

The global food crisis of mid-2000s resulted in a several-fold increase in the prices of essential food items. Resultantly, the incidence of food insecurity, hunger, and poverty has increased in many developing countries [Ivanic and Martin (2008); Harttgen and Klasen (2012); De Hoyos and Medvedev (2009); World Bank (2010); Regmi and Seale (2010); Andreyeva, et al. (2010). Pakistan is also hit hard by this crisis. Prices of several food items increased by more than a 100 percent since 2006-07. Consequently, nearly half of the population is currently unable to meet its minimum (subsistence) caloric requirements for healthy and productive living [Malik, et al. (2014)]. A large proportion of household expenditure is spent on food (on average about 48 percent in 2010) and thus very little is left for the other expenditures necessary for human welfare, such as, health and education. Moreover, dietary diversity is extremely limited. Nearly 70 percent of food expenditure is on cereals, dairy, sweeteners, and fats. Wheat is the major source of calories, providing about half of the total daily calories [Malik, et al. (2014)]. However, the price of wheat increased by 125 percent between 2005-6 and 2010-11. Existing analyses indicate that these price shocks entail significant additional expenditures to maintain their pre-crisis consumption levels [Haq, et al. (2008); Friedman, Hong, and Xiaohui (2011)]. There is thus overwhelming evidence that rising food prices and the decline in real wages have serious implications for poverty, food security, and nutrition through food consumption patterns in the country

Sohail Jehangir Malik,

Hina Nazli,

Edward Whitney