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Nutritional impacts of rising food prices in African countries: a review

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This paper investigates the influences of food price spikes on nutritional outcomes in six African countries: DR Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Drawing on the estimates of food demand elasticity with respect to food prices in previous studies, we constructed the elasticity of calorie and protein consumption with respect to food prices. We find that, while increasing cereal prices has the largest negative influences on both calorie and protein consumption in all the countries, the magnitude of the influences may differ by regions and the country’s dietary patterns. The negative influences are particularly large in rural areas and in the countries whose diets highly depend on a single staple cereal while small in the countries whose diets have alternative staple foods. Our findings highlight the importance of stabilizing cereal prices to reduce calorie deficiency while it may not be enough to improve protein deficiency.

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  1. Because Ecker and Qaim (2011) estimated both food demand and the corresponding nutrition elasticities for Malawi, we do not need to construct nutrient elasticities here.

  2. The positive effect is due to the combination of a relatively small decline in maize consumption and a large substitution with sugar consumption.


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Correspondence to Xiaohua Yu.

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Yu, X., Shimokawa, S. Nutritional impacts of rising food prices in African countries: a review. Food Sec. 8, 985–997 (2016).

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