Falling incomes resulting from COVID-19 are expected to lead to a reduction in food demand despite lower agricultural prices. Providing food security and nutrition for a growing global population is one of the major challenges of food systems around the world.
Global projections indicate that food demand per capita could fall between 0.85% and 1% in 2020-21, compared with baseline levels of demand in a COVID-free world, and this effect is expected to be maintained over the medium term. 2029 projections show a drop in demand by about 0.7% to 1% below COVID-free baseline levels.
The impact on food demand is expected to be about two times stronger in Least developed countries (LDCs) than in OECD countries, reflecting the fact that households in LDCs spend a higher share of their income on food. In other words, a drop in household income due to the economic downturn has a larger effect on food consumption in LDCs than in OECD countries.
While the average impact on calorie demand appears low, the impacts within countries are likely to be substantially larger, especially in those characterised by important income inequalities. Since the poorest segments of the population are expected to be at higher risk, it will be crucial that additional efforts are made to reach global food security by 2030, as targeted by the Sustainable Development Goals.
See the OECD food systems portal.