What happens to patterns of food consumption when food prices change? Evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis of food price elasticities globally.
Sommaire de l'article
Recent years have seen considerable interest in examining the impact of food prices on food consumption and subsequent health consequences. Fiscal policies targeting the relative price of unhealthy foods are frequently put forward as ways to address the obesity epidemic. Conversely, various food subsidy interventions are used in attempts to reduce levels of under-nutrition. Information on price elasticities is essential for understanding how such changes in food prices affect food consumption. It is crucial to know not only own-price elasticities but also cross-price elasticities, as food substitution patterns may have significant implications for policy recommendations. While own-price elasticities are common in analyses of the impact of food price changes on health, cross-price effects, even though generally acknowledged, are much less frequently included in analyses, especially in the public health literature. This article systematically reviews the global evidence on cross-price elasticities and provides combined estimates for seven food groups in low-income, middle-income and high-income countries alongside previously estimated own-price elasticities. Changes in food prices had the largest own-price effects in low-income countries. Cross-price effects were more varied and depending on country income level were found to be reinforcing, undermining or alleviating own-price effects.