Environmental Economics and Policy Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 455–469 | Cite as

Phosphorus requirements for the changing diets of China, India and Japan

  • Elizabeth Webeck
  • Kazuyo Matsubae
  • Tetsuya Nagasaka
Research Article Studies on Industrial Ecology


The changes in the food supply over a period of almost 50 years in the three biggest economies in Asia were examined to estimate the change in the virtual phosphorus requirements in each country over time with regard to food consumption. While the overall food supply in the rapidly growing economies of India and China grew rapidly, there are some remarkable differences in the food supply in these two emerging giant economies over time. Having undergone rapid development in the late 1970s and 1980s, Japan’s food supply stabilized with the stagnation of the Japanese economy in the mid 1990s. The implications of the changes in the food supply of these three economies are discussed in terms of the phosphorus demand for producing food for these three countries using the concept of the virtual phosphorus. Future projections were made to create a likely case scenario for the virtual phosphorus requirements in these countries in the lead up to 2050 by extrapolation and by incorporating the latest population predictions.


Phosphorus Food consumption Diet change Sustainable nutrient management Material flow analysis 

JEL Classification

Q32 Q57 



This present work was financially supported by a Grant in-Aid for the Promotion of the Recycling-Oriented Society from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (K2404), KAKENHI (24651035), and JST-RISTEX.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Webeck
    • 1
  • Kazuyo Matsubae
    • 1
  • Tetsuya Nagasaka
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EngineeringTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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