Staple Food Preferences In Asia

The majority of countries in Asia consider rice as staple food, a food that it is eaten daily and that represents a big portion of people’s regular diet. According to The Economist, Asian countries consume 90% of the world’s rice - 60% in China, India, and Indonesia alone.

Individuals’ rice consumption has continued to increase in the last century, but people in many Asian countries are no longer consuming rice as staple food. Based on an analysis from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the rice consumption in Asia, especially in Singapore, South Korea, and China, has gradually fallen since 2000. At the same time, the wheat consumption has been quickly increasing in countries like Thailand and Vietnam. Based on the 2016-17 forecast by the USDA, people in Mongolia will consume more than 100 kg per capita, a 54.9% increase since 2000. According to The Economist, based in Bennett’s law, when people become wealthier they will care more about their quality of life, including a healthier and balanced diet. This might explain the incorporation of wheat and more vegetables, fruits, and fish into Asians diets and the gradual replacement of rice.  

Based on Rabobanks predictions, this trend is likely to continue. However, for many Asians,  rice remains a traditional staple food and the amount of wheat they eat per year is still significantly lower than the world average.

Things are a little different in Africa. Based on the analysis from The Economist, the production of rice in this region increased rapidly between 2000 and 2014. Based on an estimation from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the rice consumption per capita will increase faster in Africa than in any other region, specifically in the sub-Saharan area. This situation will bring more opportunities for African farmers, as well.

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Xuewei Chen

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