The level of those deemed to be "food insecure" in 70 developing countries rose from 849 million to 982 million in 2006-07, according to a report by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). Food-insecure people are defined as those consuming less than 2,100 calories a day, the nutritional target set by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). USDA dropped the word "hunger" and now uses the term "food insecure" instead.
The analysis concludes, "Over the next decade, a slowdown in worldwide economic growth is projected to combine with food and fuel price hikes to contribute to an ongoing deterioration in global food security. This will have a particularly negative impact on the developing countries that are already the most food-insecure—those in Sub-Saharan Africa."
In 2002, USDA said declining commodity prices of the last few decades changed direction. "Grain prices jumped about 50% from 2005-07. Based on USDA long-term projections, about 90% of that price shift will persist during the next decade." This situation, USDA analysts said, will hit low-income developing countries especially hard "because food expenditures make up such a large share of total household expenditures (more than 50% for many countries reviewed in this report)."
Regarding the current food and energy price situation, ERS noted, "The recent oil price hikes add to the financial burden because the higher energy import bill can squeeze out the imports of necessities such as food and other raw materials. The financial pressure of price hikes is particularly overwhelming for those countries that were vulnerable to food insecurity at the outset."
USDA projects that the food distribution gap is estimated at about 44 million tons for 2007 -- almost three times the average national-level gap (the amount of food needed to meet the nutritional requirement at the aggregate, national level), reflecting the intensity and depth of the problem that is due to skewed income distribution within countries. Moving forward, USDA predicts that by 2017, the distribution gap is projected to increase to more than 57 million tons -- more than 7 times the amount of food aid received by these 70 countries in 2006.
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