A one dollar bag of rice in the U.S. is not the same as a one dollar bag of rice in Indonesia. For an American, who, on average, devotes about seven percent of his or her spending to food, it won’t matter that much if the price of rice doubles to two dollars. An American can likely take the money that would have gone to a “non-essential” item and put it towards food instead. But for an Indonesian, who devotes 43 percent of his/her spending to food, it could mean less to eat.
According to the World Bank, food prices have risen dramatically in the last few months, largely due to weather events and political unrest around the world. Wheat is particularly hard hit. In Azerbaijan, for example, the price of wheat went up 24 percent during the second half of last year and Azerbaijanis already put almost half of their spending toward food.
Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said these times of high food prices affect people disproportionately: “As situations change in the food market, who feels that more or less in their everyday lives? The consumer who spends the majority of spending on food, when there’s a food spike, if food prices are 40 percent of their budget, that takes a bigger hit.”
This interactive map shows data on the percentages of spending that go towards food by residents of countries around the world. Click on a percentage number for the total per capita household spending and food spending for that country.
This post is part of an ongoing partnership between Civil Eats and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism News21 course on food reporting. Over the next several months we will regularly feature stories from students in the class.