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Food Miles: Starving the Poor?

  • John Ballingall
  • Niven Winchester
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    Abstract Food miles measure the distance food travels to reach consumers' plates. Although substituting local food for imported produce will not necessarily reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the food miles movement is widely supported by consumers and import-competing producers, especially in some parts of Western Europe. We investigate the economic implications of food miles preference changes in the UK, France and Germany on other nations using an economy-wide model. Among the regions we consider, New Zealand is the most distant from Western Europe and Madagascar and Malawi export the most agro-food products relative to GDP, so food miles movements have the largest impacts on these regions. When there is a linear relationship between distance and preference changes, food miles campaigns decrease welfare in New Zealand, Madagascar and Malawi by 0.30, 0.12 and 0.28 per cent, respectively. When there is a preference shift away from imported food unrelated to distance, proportional welfare losses in the three countries are, respectively, 0.11, 0.08 and 0.24 per cent. With the exception of New Zealand, these findings indicate that some of the world's poorest nations will suffer the most from European food miles lobbying. We conclude that food miles campaigns will increase global inequality without necessarily improving environmental outcomes. Copyright 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal World Economy.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 10 (October)
    Pages: 1201-1217

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:33:y:2010:i:10:p:1201-1217
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