5. Elena G. Reshetnikova

Food Consumption: A Need for Institutional Reforms in the Face of New Risks

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Elena G. Reshetnikova

Head of the laboratory of Institute of agrarian problems of the Russian Academy of Science

Moskovskaya Str. 94, Saratov, Russian Federation, 410012

This study is dedicated to examining the current state of food consumption in the context of increasing external challenges and substantiating possible ways of overcoming the existing institutional problems.
Aim. This study aims to develop the institutional component of the process of food consumption formation through the systematization of the crucial international and national statutory instruments aimed at ensuring food security and healthy nutrition.
Tasks. This study shows major global trends in food consumption and specific problems that depend on the country’s economic situation; substantiates the need for internal food aid during the transition towards an extensive interpretation of the term “social state”; analyzes foreign experience with supplemental nutrition assistance programs; identifies the specific features of food consumption using a differentiated approach.
Results. Complex spatiotemporal analysis of food consumption shows a correlation between the dynamics of real expenditures of the Russian population and average staple food consumption per capita over a period of three decades. Periods of increase and decrease in the examined parameters are identified as a result of effect of exogeneous and endogeneous factors. The correlation between staple food consumption and rational norms and minimum physiological subsistence level is shown with a breakdown by income groups of the population. It is determined that the actual food consumption level of low income groups is lower than both rational norms and minimum physiological subsistence level, which contradicts the fundamental national statutory instruments dealing with the physical and economic availability of food and healthy nutrition.
Conclusion. In order to optimize food consumption, it is necessary to undertake the following measures: to increase the final output of the national agri-food complex, implement an import substitution policy, improve the government income and tax policy, promote sustainable consumption and healthy lifestyle, develop a government food aid system that would provide food assistance to the most vulnerable population strata and ensure stable demand for the national agri-food complex. The government system of internal food aid should include not only a food stamps program for individuals whose income is below the living wage, but also targeted programs to assist categories of the population that require adequate nutrition the most, i. e. pregnant and nursing women, children under three years of age, etc. Rational staple food consumption norms should be differentiated according to climatic zones and age-sex groups and enshrined in legislation, since the Food Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation is looking to meet these norms.

Keywords: food consumption, income groups, food aid


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