Community and Public Health Nutrition
Objectives : The objective of the study was to assess the evolution in international food trade relationships among countries during the period from 1986 until 2013, according to income groups, in order to analyze the contribution of global commerce to nutrition patterns in diverse populations worldwide.
Methods : Longitudinal study based on the analysis of food trade among countries, using datasets publicly available from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The information on food items imported from each country to another partner country were converted into calories per capita per year, considering only edible parts, allowing the aggregation of annual food trade flows for identification of contributions from international food systems to each country, categorized according to income level classification of the World Bank. The dataset was organized in pairs of countries linked by food commerce to build the graph of food trade network for each year and to provide information on the dynamics of the network during the period analyzed, considering that countries were nodes and food trade connections were edges.
Results : The dynamics of the global trade indicates intense growth in calories obtained from commerce among countries (from ~1,124kcal per capita per day in 1986 to ~2,826kcal in 2013), especially in low (+142.6%) and lower-middle income countries (+277.9%). However, major part of the calories traded among countries were concentrated among high income countries (from ~2,260kcal per capita per day in 1986 to ~4,651kcal in 2013). The evolution of international food trade network showed increase in graph density (from 0.164 in 1986 to 0.325 in 2013), and degree (from 25,365 in 1986 to 56,503 in 2013); nevertheless, there was relatively stable modularity (from 0.254 in 1986 to 0.325 in 2013), indicating intensification of calories traded among countries in the period, within similar patterns of commercial networks.
Conclusions : Information on networks connections along the period analyzed allowed indicating the role of global commerce on food situation of countries worldwide. There was increasing influence of global trade in national food systems during the last three decades; though inequalities remain regarding contributions from countries in different income levels.
Funding Sources : None.