3 billion people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet, finds the 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. The annual report, released 13 July, provides an important stocktake of hunger, nutrition and food security globally – especially as hunger continues to rise and COVID-19 wreaks havoc on our food systems.
This year’s report estimates that 690 million people were hungry or undernourished in 2019 – or 8.9% of the world’s population. This revised figure reflects the inclusion of new data on population, food supply & household surveys from 13 countries.
However, the trend remains the same: global hunger has been on the rise since 2014. Globally hunger has risen by 10 million people in the last year and by nearly 60 million in five years. If trends continue, 840 million people will be affected by hunger in 2030.
The report’s numbers do not include the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which SOFI estimates will add up to 132 million to the 2020 undernutrition estimates.
The burden of malnutrition remains a global challenge with the world off track to meet the 2025 and 2030 global nutrition targets. Progress on wasting is specifically too slow to meet its targets. Breastfeeding is the only indicator on track to meet its 2025 target but additional effort is required if it is to reach its 2030 target.
“Meeting SDG2 is only possible if we ensure people have enough food to eat and what they’re eating is nutritious,” says SOFI 2020. With the theme “Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets”, SOFI for the first time analyses the cost and affordability of healthy diets, by region and in different development contexts.
New findings show that 3 billion people are unable to afford a healthy diet. The cost of a healthy diet exceeds the international poverty line and food expenditures of most countries in the Global South. A healthy meal is estimated to cost five times that of a starch-only meal, with significant implications for tackling hunger and malnutrition around the world.
SOFI’s analysis of a healthy diet also explores the health costs and environmental costs of our current food production and consumption patterns. If we continue business as usual, by 2030, diet-related health costs are estimated to exceed $1.3 trillion per year while social costs of greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to surpass $1.7 trillion a year. Shifting to healthy diets could reduce health costs by up to 97% and the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions by 74% by 2030.
To reduce the cost of nutritious food and making healthy diets affordable, SOFI highlights the need for significant transformations to existing food systems with context-specific policies and strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all solution but a few general recommendations are made in the report, including:
The findings of this year's SOFI report is directly aligned to Area 8 of the Chefs' Manifesto: Nutritious food that is accessible & affordable for all. Please join us in raising your voice to amplify these findings and call for action across food systems. Here's a few ways to get started: