Agricultural Development Economics


Trade and Nutrition Technical Note
Trade policy technical notes No. 21 – Trade and Food Security
Publication date
The triple burden of malnutrition, which consists of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity, continues to be a global cause for concern. In fact, dietary risks are among the leading factors contributing to early deaths. Which role can trade and trade policy play in achieving food and nutrition security? Trade can improve the availability and affordability of different foods as well as provide more choices for consumers and thus help diversify diets. At the same time, the rise of food trade is often associated with a greater availability of less healthy foods, including ultra-processed foods, which can be to the detriment of dietary quality. Myriad policies, including in agriculture and trade, affect the food system, its economic environment, prices, producers, processors and consumers. Trade policies can change the availability of and access to food and thus effect consumer choices and the ultimate composition of diets. To maximize the positive effects of increased trade for nutrition and to limit its adverse effects, trade reforms need to be complemented by targeted domestic policies designed to improve the nutritional status of the population, tailored to country specific needs. The combination of fiscal measures and public information campaigns, for example, could shift consumption in favour of healthier alternatives. The technical note explores the impact of trade on nutrition and the extent to which trade policies affect nutritional objectives. It also highlights critical knowledge gaps for evidence-based decision making.
Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania