Saturday, February 05, 2011

Food Costs

Charles Blow has an op-ed piece in the Times with a table comparing the Mid-East nations (and the US) on various metrics: age of population, inequality of income, food expenditure, Internet penetration, level of democracy. Overall, there's not much difference between Tunisia, Egypt and the other countries. But on food costs, defined as spending on food consumed at home, as a percentage of household spending, the US is down to 6.8 percent (based on the 2011 Statistical Abstract). Most of the other countries, except Israel and the small oil-rich ones,  run from 20 to 45 percent. 

I suspect this is misleading, however, in that in US the 6.8 percent includes lots of processed food, while in the Mid East the 20+ percent is more raw materials, like flour, beans, rice, olive oil and similar ingredients.  So fluctuations in the price of agricultural commodities hits them much harder than in the US>

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