Recent research by the Food Security Innovation Lab (FSP) has documented the rapid rise in demand for processed and perishable foods in East and Southern Africa (ESA) (Tschirley et al, 2015a; Tschirley et al, 2015b). This work has highlighted four results. First, the penetration of processed foods in consumption patterns in the region has been deep, with an overall share in purchased food of nearly 70%. Second, the penetration has been broad, with the share of all processed food in total food purchases being nearly as high in rural areas as in urban, and nearly as high among the poor as among the upper classes. Third, the main difference across types of households is that low value added processed foods (“low processed”, e.g., purchased maize meal, milled rice, meat) predominate among lower-income and rural households, while high value added processed foods (“high processed”, e.g., vegetable oils, bread, food away from home) predominate in urban areas and among higher income households1. Fourth, expenditure elasticities of demand are highest – and all above 1.0 – for perishable high processed foods, perishable low processed foods, and non-perishable high processed foods, respectively. Note that this same order is maintained, and all values remain above 1.0, in both urban- and rural areas.


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