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Food Prices for Nutrition DataHub: global statistics on the cost and affordability of healthy diets

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  • The Food Prices for Nutrition DataHub provides access to global statistics on the cost and affordability of healthy diets and related indicators. These data use food item availability and prices from the International Comparison Program (ICP), combined with food composition data and nutritional requirements from a wide range of sources including national dietary guidelines.

    The 33 indicators and their metadata cover:

    Diet cost

    • Cost of a healthy diet, per person per day
    • Cost of an energy sufficient diet and a nutrient adequate diet, per person per day
    • Cost per person per day, cost share, and cost relative to starchy staples of different food groups (fruits; vegetables; starchy staples; animal-sourced foods; legumes, nuts and seeds; and oils and fats)

    Diet affordability

    • Share of the population and number of people who cannot afford each diet cost
    • Ratio of each diet cost to observed national average food expenditures
    • Ratio of each diet cost to the food component of the international poverty line

    For further information on definitions and methods please refer to Methodology

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    DATA HIGHLIGHTS

    • In 2020 the global average daily cost of a healthy diet in current purchasing power parities was $3.54. In low-income countries the average cost was $3.20, while in high-income countries it was slightly higher at $3.35. The highest cost was observed in upper-middle-income countries, where a healthy diet cost $3.76, while in lower-middle-income countries the average was slightly less at $3.70. 
    • These costs are far in excess of the food component (52%) of the current international poverty line of $1.90 a day. 
    • Comparing these costs with income distribution data provides a measure of the affordability of the diet. Around 42% - or 3.07 billion - of the global population could not afford a healthy diet in 2020. In low-income and lower-middle-income countries the proportions rose to 88% and 69% respectively, and in the twelve most afflicted countries - all in Sub-Saharan Africa - over 90% of the population could not afford a healthy diet.
    • These headline data are available for the years 2017 to 2020. The share of people unable to afford a healthy diet fell across all income groups and most regions between 2017 and 2019 but rose again in 2020. This may be attributed to the sharp increase in global consumer food prices in the second half of 2020 impacting the affordability. The exception was Middle East and North Africa where the share rose from 38.7% to 40.1% between 2017 and 2019 and fell to 38.5% in 2020.
    • The cost of each food group making up the cost of a healthy diet is also provided. The most expensive of the food groups is animal-sourced foods, priced on average at $0.87 for the daily quantity needed in a healthy diet. For this food group, the highest cost recorded is in South Asia at $1.08. Vegetables are the second most expensive at $0.79 while fruits cost $0.66 on average. 
    • The cost of each food group relative to the cost of starchy staples – often an easily accessible food providing calories – is also provided. The cost of vegetables relative to starchy staples was highest in the Maldives at over four times the cost, while fruits were 3.7 times the cost of starchy staples in Italy for example.

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    Cost of a healthy diet and the population unable to afford the diet in countries

    The cost per person per day of a healthy diet in each country with data in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 is plotted against the number of people who cannot afford the diet. Data on the share of population affected are also provided.

    Cost of food groups relative to starchy staples in a least-cost healthy diet

    The cost per person per day of the different food groups relative to that of starchy staples within a healthy diet for each country is provided in the map below. Cost in 2017 purchasing power parity dollars and cost share of each food group are also provided.

    Affordability of diets in countries

    The affordability of a least-cost healthy diet in each country with data in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 is provided in the map below. Affordability is expressed as the diet cost as a percentage of the food component of the international poverty line defined as 52 percent of $1.90 per day in 2011 prices, and equal to $0.99 in 2011 prices

  • The Food Prices for Nutrition project was established to provide governments and development agencies with accurate and updated metrics to inform agricultural and food systems interventions. 

    The project’s outputs – indicators of the cost and affordability of diets and food groups and data for up to 174 countries - use observed consumer prices and household expenditures to provide an operational measure of people’s access to locally available foods in the proportions needed for health.

    The new diet cost metrics developed for Food Prices for Nutrition underlie the estimates published in The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World that around 3 billion – or two in five people on the planet - cannot afford a healthy diet. These data were used to frame the 2021 UN Food System Summit summary and statement of action. In 2022, continuing global food price inflation and supply shocks further underscore the need for timely data on the cost and affordability of healthy diets and nutritious food items and groups. The Food Prices for Nutrition Datahub, as the authoritative source for internationally standardized statistics, indicators, and granular data, meets this need for a global cohort of policy makers, development analysts, and other users.

    Food Prices for Nutrition supports efforts within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 (SDG 2). It can also support the monitoring of progress towards the World Bank’s objective of building food systems that can feed everyone, everywhere, every day by promoting “nutrition-sensitive agriculture” and improving food safety. FPN data assist policy makers and program analysts in guiding agricultural production and food distribution to ensure affordable healthy diets for all people at all times.

    The Food Prices for Nutrition project is a partnership between Tufts University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the World Bank. This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Aid, through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom.

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  •  The Food Prices for Nutrition DataHub's diet cost and affordability indicators use the least cost combination of locally available foods to meet the needs of a representative adult requiring 2330 kcal per day at three levels of diet quality: a healthy diet; a nutrient adequate diet, and an energy sufficient diet. The initial results up to 174 countries are based on national average prices in 2017, expressed in terms of purchasing power parity dollars per day.  

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    COST INDICATORS

    • Cost of a Healthy Diet: A healthy diet meets nutritional standards set by dietary guidelines, with sufficient diversity and quantity within and between food groups to achieve nutrient adequacy and protect against diet-related diseases. To measure access and affordability, the cost of meeting food-based dietary guidelines is computed using the least expensive foods available in each category at each place and time (see "Methods and options to monitor the cost and affordability of a healthy diet globally" (Herforth et al. 2022)). The cost of a healthy diet is the preferred indicator of diet costs as it uses the most affordable foods available at local markets to meet dietary needs for an active and healthy life, using standards adopted by national governments around the world. Total cost per day can be disaggregated by food group, showing the cost per day of the least expensive locally available items in each food group (fruits; vegetables; starchy staples; animal-source foods; legumes, nuts, and seeds; and oils and fats)
    • Cost of a Nutrient Adequate Diet: A nutrient adequate diet meets all essential nutrient requirements, with sufficient diversity and quantity of locally available foods to stay within the upper and lower bounds for total protein, fats, and carbohydrates as well as essential vitamins and minerals required to avoid nutrient deficiencies or toxicity. Computation of the least-cost nutrient adequate diet requires linear programming, and is based on nutrient requirements only, rather than food groups specified in dietary guidelines.
    • Cost of an Energy Sufficient Diet: An energy sufficient diet provides enough of a starchy staple food for day-to-day subsistence, without either nutrient adequacy or adherence to dietary guidelines. The least-cost version of this subsistence diet uses the most affordable locally available starchy staple, achieving energy balance but not nutrient adequacy or other dietary needs.

    For each of the diets listed above, costs per day are based on requirements for a median adult woman aged 19-30 in a healthy population as defined by the World Health Organization. Information on the variation in the cost of nutrient adequacy by age, sex and reproductive status can be found in the Lancet article "Global variation in the cost of a nutrient-adequate diet by population group: an observational study" (Bai, Herforth and Masters 2022).

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    AFFORDABILITY INDICATORS

    The affordability of each diet is measured by comparing diet costs to available income and four affordability metrics for each level of diet quality are calculated. The first three of these define the income available for food as 52 percent of total household expenditure, computed from budget shares recorded in low-income countries and used for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2022 report. The fourth metric uses actual food expenditure. The metrics available are:

    • The number of people who cannot afford each level of diet quality, using  household income or expenditure data for each country from the World Bank’s Poverty and Inequality Platform.
    • The percentage share of people who cannot afford each level of diet quality, using the number of people who cannot afford divided by  the total population in each country.
    • The ratio of a country’s diet cost to the food component of the international poverty line, with the food component defined as 52 percent of $1.90 per day in 2011 prices, and equal to $0.99 in 2011 prices 
    • The ratio of a country’s diet costs to observed food expenditures per capita per day from national accounts, as reported by the International Comparison Program.

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  • Featured

    • July 6th (10:00-12:00 ET)
      UN Event FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO launch of SOFI 2022 
    • July 15th (10:00-11:30 am ET)
      World Bank Live event  "Are healthy diets affordable? Using new data to guide agricultural and food policy" [ Presentation ] 
    • July 15th (10:00-11:30 am ET) 
      IFPRI policy seminar "Are healthy diets affordable? Using new data on retail prices and diet costs to guide agricultural and food policy

    Videos

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    Media

    • Jun 2022: Washington Post article on the true cost of food
    • Jun 2022: The Independent (UK) + Tufts Now on world food prices
    • May 2022: Johns Hopkins podcast on the global food price crisis
    • Feb 2022: Yumlish podcast on food prices and cost of healthy eating
    • Nov 2021: Le Monde article on food prices (in French) [ ungated pdf ]
    • Mar 2021: Eat This podcast on diet costs and affordability
    • Feb 2021: Tufts Now article on food prices and diet costs
    • Dec 2020: Nature Outlook article on diet costs & affordability

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    Events

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    Blogs and Articles

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Featured

FPN-event-july-14-780-43
Event

World Bank Live: July 14th, 2022

This event brings together a panel of experts from countries, international agencies, and academia to discuss new food security indicators on diet costs and affordability and their use in guiding agricultural and food policy.
SOFI2022
Publication

SOFI Report release: July 6th, 2022

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2022, published in July 2022, reports on progress towards ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition, and provides in-depth analysis of key challenges.
IFPRI-Seminar-780-439
Event

IFPRI Policy Seminar: July 15th, 2022

This International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Policy Seminar features the Food Prices for Nutrition team and participants from around the world to discuss how policy analysts and researchers can use the new methods and data in their own work.

Food Prices for Nutrition Data


NEWS AND CONVERSATION

Contact us at   FPN@worldbank.org, and follow #FoodPricesForNutrition on Twitter and LinkedIn


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