Income variability, evolving diets and demand for processed foods in Nigeria
This report (PDF) by A4NH-CGAIR and IFPRI presents evidence on evolving dietary patterns in Nigeria. Nigeria faces many of the same challenges confronting other low and middle-income countries today. Rapid development, high population growth, and rural-urban migration are leading to swelling cities and a new set of issues. Research revealed a complex and nuanced picture of consumer demand for processed foods. First of all, consumption of highly processed foods at home has been decreasing over time in Nigeria. However, trends differ by region, income level, and urban or rural location. This is in part a result of a decline in the overall value share of food consumed at home in recent years. Furthermore, though consumption of food eaten away from home has increased, much about that food is unknown. When households have additional money, they increase their share of expenditure on food away from home but decrease their share of expenditures on highly processed foods eaten at home. The research also shows that estimates of food expenditure elasticities of different food types are highly sensitive to different estimation approaches, raising concerns regarding the existing evidence base on food consumption patterns reliant on estimation of food expenditure elasticities. In the researchers preferred specifications, elasticity of demand for food away from home is highest for the relatively wealthy and in the urban South. Within households, elasticities are highest in times of scarcity, suggesting that households cut food away from home when resources are relatively scarce. In this context, solid policy recommendations can best result from both improved data collection on foods eaten away from home and the use of models derived from consumer demand theory to understand the relationship between food purchasing and household income.