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Westernization of Asian diets and the transformation of food systems: Implications for research and policy








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    The convergence of food diets: Characterizing consumption patterns, food diversity, and the relationship to trade
    Background paper for The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) 2020
    2020
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    Since the 1990s, technological advancements, growing incomes, increased trade, and urbanization have significantly impacted consumption patterns. Worldwide, there is growing evidence of some convergence of diets being facilitated by rapid changes in global food systems including the increasing market share held by supermarkets at all income levels. The formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the emergence and rapid spread of the Internet have also played important roles in facilitating trade and increasing the variety of food available to consumers. Empirical evidence to examine these impacts has mostly been gathered at the household level and, at the global level, the focus has been on the effect of globalization on obesity and health. Using data from the periods 1994–1996 (WTO formation and emergence of the Internet) and 2015–2017 (rapid spread of the Internet), this paper analyses whether global diets are, in fact, converging. In the comparison of these two periods, the author finds that, as trade intensity increases for cereals, sugars, vegetable oils, and meat – which account for more than two-thirds of calories consumed – so does diversity of products consumed from within each group. The relationship between greater trade intensity and caloric consumption diversity is strongest for cereals, meat, and sugars. The author suggests that further research should undertake a disaggregated trade analysis in order to understand whether the increased food diversity is coming from imports of more diverse foods or other factors.
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    Globalization of food systems in developing countries: impact on food security and nutrition 2005
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    Food systems are being transformed at an unprecedented rate as a result of global economic and social change. Urbanization, foreign direct investment in markets of developing countries and increasing incomes are prime facilitators for the observed changes, while social changes, such as the increased number of women in the workforce and rural to urban migration, provide added stimulus. Changes are also facilitated in concrete ways by food production based on intensive agriculture, new food proces sing and storage technologies, longer product shelf-life, the emergence of food retailers such as fast food outlets and supermarkets and the intensification of advertising and marketing of certain products. The sum of these changes has resulted in diverse foods that are available all year for those who can afford them, as well as a shift in home-prepared and home-based meals to pre-prepared or ready-to-eat meals, often consumed away from home. These food system and lifestyle changes are in turn having an impact on the health and nutritional status of people in developing countries. There is an indication of rapid increases in overweight and obesity, particularly among adults, and an increasing prevalence of diet-related non-communicable diseases. At the same time, social inequalities are increasing, particularly in urban areas. The papers appearing in this publication were first presented at the workshop "Globalization of food systems: impacts on food security and nutrition" held at FA O headquarters in Rome from 8 to 10 October 2003 . The chapters are arranged in two parts. The first contains overview chapters providing a synthesis of findings from 11 country case studies, an overview of issues related to urban food insecurity, a review of nutritional change in developing countries and some policy options to address these changes.
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    Globalization of Indian diets and the transformation of food supply systems 2004
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    This paper examines the change in the nature of food demand in India in the last twenty years. It identifies two distinct stages of diet transition associated with the period of economic growth. During the first stage, income-induced diet diversification, consumers move away from inferior goods to superior foods and substitute some traditional staples, especially rice. In the second stage, diet globalisation, the influences of globalisation are much more marked with increased consumption of prot eins, sugars and fats. Diet diversification has marked the process of transformation in food production systems. The implications for small and marginal farmers could be serious, unless there are incentives and policies that allow them to move away from subsistence agriculture and become more integrated in the global food market.

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