The third quarter of 2013 brought good news: food prices fell, making foodstuffs more affordable. Such optimistic statistics were presented by Global Food Security Index, an index measuring access to food, the cost of purchasing agricultural products as well as food safety and quality in 107 countries.
What is food safety?
According to the definition agreed on by representatives of 180 countries at a conference which took place in Rome in 1996, food safety is a condition in which people have full access (material, social and economic) to nutrients satisfying human body needs, food vital for a healthy and active lifestyle. The malnutrition issue still concerns as many as 800 million people in the world, but the scale of the phenomenon continues to fall.
Food is getting cheaper
FAO has published information that global food prices fell by 5% in the third quarter of 2013. What is more, the cost of buying food by people in danger of interrupted access to food (dependent on current harvest of cereals and basic agricultural goods) decreased by as much as 16%, thanks to growing market availability of such goods as soy, rice and wheat. Experts from Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the authors of the Index, forecast further downward trend in the pricing of food. Also, seeing that demand for food is falling in the most populous countries in the world: China and India, the availability of foodstuffs is set to improve.
Poland on a strong position
In the general ranking including key criteria (food affordability, availability, quality and safety) our country took the 26th place ex aequo with Hungary, receiving 70.3 out of 100 points. Authors of the Index found that positive aspects of the situation in Poland include: presence of programs concerning food safety, an array of sources of external financing of agriculture and preventing malnutrition (100 points in all these criteria). However there are also drawbacks of the local situation, such as the necessity to increase the proportion of the national budget allocated to financing research and development in agriculture (only 12.5 points in this category).
An alternative view
Apart from the research proposed by EIU, there is also the Global Hunger Index (GHI) prepared by International Food Policy Research Institute. Let us look into the complex nature of hunger as a phenomenon. By some it is defined as the discomfort resulting from lack of access to food, by others as the lack of possibility of consuming meals sufficient for a healthy and productive life. Researchers analyzing the global problem of hunger take into consideration three main factors allowing to estimate the scale of the phenomenon: undernourishment, proportion of underweight children and mortality rate among minors. On a 100 points’ scale, zero indicates lack of hunger and 100 points – an acute shortage of food. The latest report was drawn up basing on data collected in 2012 from 120 countries. Poland’s score was 0 points.