Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 721–740 | Cite as

The changing food expenditure patterns and trends in Zambia: implications for agricultural policies

  • Brian Chisanga
  • Olipa Zulu-Mbata
Original Paper


Zambia, like many other African countries is undergoing rapid urbanization and rising per capita income, accompanied by rising population. This study sought to understand the changing food expenditure patterns in Zambia and the implications of this transformation on food policy, food market development, and rural development. The main source of data for the study was the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (LCMS) data collected in 1996, 1998, 2010, and 2015 by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) of Zambia. Trends in expenditure shares were done for each of the food categories over time and by rural and urban areas. The study found that there have been major declines in the shares of food expenditure on maize among rural and urban households between 1996 and 2015. However, wheat shares in urban households’ diets increased while rural households experienced a drop in coarse grains and tubers. Wealthier households spent larger shares of their food expenditure on wheat, rice and potatoes. Further, wealthier households increased their share of expenditure on animal protein, while poorer households doubled their expenditure on vegetables. Thus, transformation of food expenditure patterns is evident mostly among the high income households, mainly in urban areas. Overall the changing pattern of food expenditure is consistent with rising incomes and rapid urbanization. However, the disparities between the different income groups and between rural and urban areas are indicative of a rise in income inequality both in urban and rural parts of Zambia.


Expenditure patterns Consumption patterns Agriculture Policy Income Zambia 


Funding information

We wish to acknowledge the financial and substantive support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lusaka.

Compliance with ethical standards

Statement on conflict of interest

We as authors hereby declare that there is no conflict of interest arising from the publication of this article in Food Security.

Details of ethical approval

The analysis done for this article used datasets collected by the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Central Statistical Office (CSO), which is the department charged with national statistics. The CSO complied with ethical standards during the collection of data.

Statement of informed consent

As part of standard practice by the CSO, respondents were given full information on the survey prior to the commencement of the questionnaire based interviews. Further, respondents were also given an option to discontinue the interview.


  1. Chauvin, N. D., Mulangu, F., & Porto, G. (2012). Food Production and Consumption Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Prospects for the Transformation of the Agricultural Sector, UNDP Africa Policy Notes No. 2012–011. New York: United Nations Development Programme Regional Bureau for Africa.Google Scholar
  2. Cirera, X., & Masset, E. (2010). Income Distribution Trends and Future Food Demand. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 365(1554), 2821–2834.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. CSO. (1998). Living conditions monitoring survey. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  4. CSO. (2005). Living conditions monitoring survey report for 2004. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  5. CSO. (2010). Living conditions monitoring survey. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  6. CSO. (2012). Living conditions monitoring survey report for 2006 and 2010. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  7. CSO. (2016). Living conditions monitoring survey report for 2015. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  8. CSO. (2017). District retail prices. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  9. CSO (Central Statistical Office). (1996). Living conditions monitoring survey (LCMS)report for 1996. Lusaka: CSO.Google Scholar
  10. Das Nair, R., & Chisoro, S. (2015). The Expansion of Regional Supermarket Chains: Changing Models of Retailing and the Implications for Local Supplier Capabilities in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, WIDER Working Paper No. 2015/114. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.Google Scholar
  11. Gale, H. F., & Huang, K. (2007). Demand for Food Quantity and Quality in China, United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service Report No. 32. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.Google Scholar
  12. Hansen, A. (2018). Consuming Development: Capitalism, Economic Growth and everyday Life. Development Economics. Accessed online 6 January 2018 at
  13. Hassen, I. W., Dereje, M., Minten, B., & Hirvonen, K. (2016). Diet Transformation in Africa: The Case of Ethiopia, ESSP Working Paper No. 87. Addis Ababa: International Food Policy Research Institute and Ethiopian Development Research Institute.Google Scholar
  14. Hichaambwa, M., Beaver, M., Chapoto, A., & Weber, M. T. (2009). Patterns of Urban Food Consumption and Expenditure in Zambia: An Overview Report, Based on the CSO/MACO/FSRP Food Consumption Survey in Urban Areas of Lusaka, Kitwe, Mansa, and Kasama, 2007–2008. Lusaka: CSO/MACO/FSRP.Google Scholar
  15. Sichilimo, M. (2016). JCTR Encourages Consumption of Local Rice. Lusaka, Zambia: Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection. Accessed online 27 July, 2016 at
  16. Tschirley, D., Haggblade, S., & Reardon, T. (Eds.). (2013). Africa’s Emerging Food System Transformation. East Lansing: Michigan State University Global Center for Food System Innovation.Google Scholar
  17. United Nations. (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision. New York: The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Can be accessed on line at
  18. Wilde, P. (1989). Changing Food Consumption Patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: USAIDFVA/PPM.Google Scholar
  19. World Bank. (2014). GDP Per Capita Indicator. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  20. World Health Organization (WHO). (2018). Double burden of malnutrition. Accessed online 6 January, 2018 at

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indaba Agricultural Policy Research InstituteLusakaZambia

Personalised recommendations