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Assessing Food Security

International Food Security Assessment, 2015-2025 projects that the number of food-insecure people will fall 9 percent— from 521 million in 2014 to 475 million in 2015 —in the 76 low- and middle-income countries included in the ERS report. Over the longer term, however, the food security situation is expected to deteriorate, with the share of the population that is food insecure projected to reach 15.1 percent in 2025, up from 13.4 percent in 2015.

International Food Security Assessment, 2014-2024 projects that the number of food-insecure people will fall 9 percent—to 490 million in 2014 from 539 million in 2013—in the 76 low- and middle-income countries included in the ERS report. Over the longer term, however, the food security situation is expected to deteriorate, with the share of the population that is food insecure projected to reach 14.6 percent in 2024, up from 13.9 percent in 2014.

International Food Security Assessment, 2013-2023 (June 2013) projects that Food security in the 76 low- and middle-income countries examined will remain unchanged between 2012 and 2013. By 2023, however, the number of food-insecure people is projected to increase nearly 23 percent to 868 million, with the share of the population that is food insecure growing from 20.4 percent to 21.5 percent.

International Food Security Assessment, 2012-22 (July 2012) estimates that food security will improve slightly in 2012 as the number of food-insecure people in the 76 countries covered in this report declines from 814 million in 2011 to 802 million in 2012. The share of the population that is food insecure remains at 24 percent. Over the next decade, the food-insecure share of the population is projected to decline from 24 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2022, but the number of food-insecure people is projected to increase by 37 million. Regionally, food insecurity is projected to remain most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa

Estimating the Range of Food-Insecure Households in India (May 2012) provides a quantitative assessment of food security using a large household-level expenditure survey conducted by the Government of India during 2004/05. The analysis examines the impact of using alternative assumptions to compute actual calories consumed on estimates of the number of food-insecure people in India..

Wheat Flour Price Shocks and Household Food Security in Afghanistan (July 2011) uses a unique nationally representative household survey from Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest and most food-insecure countries, to investigate the impact of rising staple food prices on household food security. The econometric approach controls for household, district, and province factors to isolate the effects of the sudden rise in wheat flour prices in 2008 on several measures of household well-being related to food security. The results show large declines in food consumption and dietary diversity but smaller declines in calories consumed.

International Food Security Assessment 2011-21 (July 2011) estimates that the number of food-insecure people in 77 lower income countries will decrease about 1 percent from 2010 to 852 million in 2011.  The number of food-insecure people at the aggregate level is projected to decline by 16 percent over the next decade, with most of the improvement coming in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

International Food Security Assessment, 2010 Update: Improved Production Mitigated Impact of Higher Food Commodity Prices (May 2011) updates food commodity prices, domestic grain production, and export earnings data used in the USDA-ERS Food Security Assessment, 2010-20.  Despite higher food prices, results show an overall improvement in food security in 2010 relative to the 2010 projections.  The total number of food-insecure people is estimated to be 9 percent lower than the initial estimate.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the one region included in the study where food security is estimated to have unambiguously improved relative to the earlier analysis.  With domestic grain production accounting for roughly 80 percent of the region's grain consumption, the key driver of the improved result was an increase in grain production compared with the earlier estimate.

Food Security Assessment 2010-20 (July 2010) estimates that the number of food-insecure people in 70 lower income developing countries will decrease about 7.5 percent from 2009 to 882 million in 2010, due in part to economic recovery in many of these countries.  The number of food-insecure people at the aggregate level will not improve much over the next decade, declining by 1 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Improving Food Security

The Impacts of Reforms to the Public Distribution System in India's Chhattisgarh on Food Security (March 2014) examines many of the well-publicized reforms to improve distribution of subsidized food grains, many of which have been incorporated into the recently passed National Food Security Act, which has been implemented by the Indian State of Chhattisgarh. The study shows that per capita food consumption in Chhattisgarh increased in response to these reforms and that the increase in food aid helped improve food security in the State.

New International Evidence on Food Consumption Patterns  A Focus on Cross-Price Effects Based on 2005 International Comparison Program Data (January 2014) updates cross-price elasticities from the World Bank’s 2005 International Comparison Program (ICP) data for nine major consumption categories across 144 countries in this report. The consumption categories are food, beverage and tobacco; clothing and footwear; housing; house furnishings and operations; medical and health; transport and communications; recreation; education; and “other.”

The Expansion of Modern Grocery Retailing and Trade in Developing Countries (July 2011) examines the implications for food demand and trade that are influenced by the extent to which modern food retailers focus primarily on growing preferences for nonprice characteristics, such as dietary diversity, convenience, and quality, as opposed to introducing supply chain efficiencies that may reduce real food prices over time.

Fifty Years of U.S. Food Aid and Its Role in Reducing World Hunger (September 2004) states that most poor countries do not have the financial resources to support national food safety net programs. As a result, they depend on international food aid. Differing objectives in food aid programs, lack of consistency among donors' approaches to food aid, and types of food donated—for example, the share of higher priced, noncereal foods, which are unlikely to reach the poorest segment of the population, is growing—are just a few factors that limit the effectiveness of
food aid. 

Trade and Food Security

Trade and Food Security Implications from the Indonesian Agricultural Experience(May 2010) evaluates the impact of Indonesia’s transition from a food-first focus to an export-oriented development strategy on its agricultural production, productivity growth, consumer food demand, and lifestyle. Shifting production and consumption patterns have led to improvements in agricultural trade patterns and food security, which in turn have contributed to increased export opportunities for U.S. agricultural suppliers.

 Trade and Development When Exports Lack Diversification: A Case Study from Malawi(July 2009) examines Malawi, a country that earns most of its foreign exchange from tobacco, for a study of export concentration and, in the case of tobacco,  heavy exposure to volatility. The econometric results suggest that the decline in Malawi's gross domestic product (GDP) when tobacco exports are falling is almost three times greater than the increase in GDP when exports are rising.

Indian Wheat and Rice Sector Policies and the Implications of Reform (May 2007) suggests that future developments in India's food grain sector will be shaped by how policies adapt to the sector's new economic environment. Some changes, such as reducing price supports and the scope of government food grain operations, would likely cut government costs, benefit consumers, allow a larger private sector role in the domestic market, and increase reliance on trade. 

Agricultural Resources and Productivity

Resources, Policies, and Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa (February 2013)examines the roles of agricultural research, policy reorganization, labor force education, the presence of armed conflict, and the spread of HIV/AIDS on agricultural productivity growth.

 Policy, Technology, and Efficiency of Brazilian Agriculture (July 2012) presents the findings of a study that focuses on the effect of Brazil’s science and technology investments and other public policies on farm production. The findings indicate that agricultural research benefits have been most rapidly adopted by the most efficient farms, widening the productivity gap between these farms and average farms. That gap, however, has been narrowed through other public policies, such as rural credit and infrastructure investments, that favor average producers. 

Related Links 

U.S. Department of Agriculture

World Agricultural Outlook Board. Supply and demand estimates, weather, and climate.

Foreign Agricultural Service. Country and commodity information and more.

Other U.S. Government

State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Current news on disasters, the agency budget, and policy updates.

Sub-Saharan Africa. Information on USAID activities in the region, country information, speeches, and press releases.

Latin America and the Caribbean. Regional and country information, speeches, and data.

Asia and Near East. Regional and country project information, country overviews, and regional sector overviews.

Food for Peace. Information on the agency's emergency and nonemergency assistance programs.

Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook. Information (geographic, economic, and political) on 267 geographic entities in the world.

International Organizations

United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization.

FAOSTAT. Data on production, trade, food balance sheets, fertilizer and pesticides, land use and irrigation, forest and fishery products, population, agricultural machinery, and food aid shipments.

Global Information and Early Warning System. Information on global crop outlook, shortages, weather updates, special reports on countries/regions suffering from severe or emergency food situations, and country-by-country information on Sub-Saharan Africa.

World Bank. Country and regional reports and data.

International Monetary Fund. Publications, country information, and press releases.


International Food Policy Research Institute. Research and policy analysis for meeting the food needs of developing countries.

FIVIMS (Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System), World Food Summit.

Michigan State University; Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics; Food Security Group. Information on the Department's cooperative agreement with USAID's Global Bureau, including links to project objectives, country/regional activities, and publications from 1993 to the present.

Last updated: Wednesday, July 08, 2015

For more information contact: Stacey Rosen and Shahla Shapouri