Food Prices and Food Security in Trinidad and Tobago
The economy of Trinidad and Tobago is booming, in particular as a consequence of increased energy production and the historical high oil prices. Whilst general inflation has remained relatively low for much of the present economic boom, substantial increases in retail food prices have been observed, in particular since 2005. This paper looks at the development of retail food prices, its causes, the potential impact thereof in terms of food security and possible policy options for addressing this. It concludes that whilst households with low income are the groups most affected by the food price increases and will continue to be so in the wake of increasing international prices, it is unlikely that the price increases in isolation will throw off Trinidad and Tobago’s path towards meeting the MDG 1 hunger target and bringing the share of undernourished people down to 6.5% by 2015. However, food security problems will remain, in particular related to overweight and obesity caused by unbalanced diets. Analysing the food marketing systems according to domestic production system (export versus domestic consumption), product type (fresh versus frozen and processed) and origins (imported versus domestic), the paper identifies potential causes of price increases. These include increases in price margins, international price changes and market conditions that vary greatly for different commodities, ranging from competitive to oligopolistic. Finally, the paper identifies areas of potential interventions related to direct price interventions, social protection, agricultural investment and trade facilitation.
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