Countries Most Vulnerable To Food Shock

The Most Vulnerable Nations

Recent events in the Middle east and northern Africa have show that the supply and price of food can lead to major social unrest and even the downfall of a government. Many in the developed world take food for granted, but in most developing nations it can be a daily struggle and a life-and-death issue. The global recession of 2008-09 took some the wind out of surging agricultural prices, but there's growing concern that globalization will ultimately tax food supplies. Population and income grow
Photo: Comstock Images | Getty Images

Recent events in the Middle East and northern Africa have shown that the supply and price of food can lead to major social unrest and even the downfall of a government. Many in the developed world take food for granted, but in most developing nations it can be a daily struggle and a life-and-death issue.

The global recession of 2008-09 took some of the wind out of surging agricultural prices, but a rebound is underway. Long term, there's growing concern that globalization will ultimately tax food supplies.

Population and income growth mean more food consumption around the world — and the increased consumption comes at a time when land is being converted to agriculture at an insufficient rate. And, rising obesity in the West is diverting more food to the people who need it least.

Nomura studied food economics in a 2010 report to gauge "the impact of a sustained surge in food prices" on the macro economies of 80 nations, creating a food vulnerability index. The results, Nomura noted, "can vary significantly, depending, among other things, on whether the country is rich or poor, or a large net food importer or exporter.

The 'Nomura Food Vulnerability Index", NFVI, has three components: 1) nominal GDP per capita in USD at market exchange rates; 2) share of food in total household consumption; 3) net food exports as a percentage of GDP. The higher the index score, the greater the vulnerability and higher the ranking.

The U.S. ranked 67, benefiting from the relatively low cost of food and high per-capita GDP. A better ranking was hampered by the low level of food exports. On the other hand, New Zealand, which has the lowest index score, exports a high percentage of its food, even though its citizens might pay more for it. The most vulnerable countries are those where people spend a disproportionate amount of income on food and are net importers.

Click ahead to see the countries most vulnerable to food price surges.

By Albert Bozzo
Posted 26 April 2011

10. (Tied) Angola

Index score: 100.8 GDP per capita: $4,081 Consumption: 46.1% Exports: -1.4% A long civil war hurt agriculture, but the country is capable of producing a variety of products Bananas, sugarcane, coffee, tapioca and corn are all grown. Incomes are rising, thank to the oil sector, but food still absorbs 46 percent of per capita GDP. Subsistence agriculture is common. Major food imports are flour, barley, wheat and chicken meat, with much of it coming from the U.S, Portugal and South Korea.
Photo: Foodcollection RF | Getty Images

Index score: 100.8
GDP per capita: $4,081
Consumption: 46.1%
Exports: -1.4%

A long civil war hurt agriculture, but the country is capable of producing a variety of products. Bananas, sugarcane, coffee, tapioca and corn are all grown. Incomes are rising, thanks to the oil sector, but food still absorbs 46 percent of per capita GDP. Subsistence agriculture is common. Major food imports are flour, barley, wheat and chicken meat, with much of it coming from the U.S, Portugal and South Korea.

10. (Tied) Azerbaijan

Index score: 100.8 GDP per capita: $5,315 Consumption: 60.2% Exports: -0.6% Like Nigeria, food in in this country has taken a backset to petroleum. Spending on food in Azerbaijan is the highest of the top ten, Farmland, despite a variety of climates is under-klutzes, which pressures prices. Grapes, cotton and tobacco account for half of total output. Agriculture sector has shrunk in recent decades.
Photo: John Sohm | VisionsofAmerica | Getty Images

Index score: 100.8
GDP per capita: $5,315
Consumption: 60.2%
Exports: -0.6%

Like Nigeria, food in in this country has taken a backset to petroleum. Spending on food in Azerbaijan is the highest of the top ten. Farmland, despite a variety of climates is under-utilized, which pressures prices. Grapes, cotton and tobacco account for half of total output.

8. (Tied) Hong Kong

Index score: 100.9 GDP per capita: $30,863 Consumption: 25.8% Exports: -4.4% With a large population in a highly-developed, small land area, Hong Kong imports a high percentage of its food, which offsets its high income. Fish is the only exception. Most of its food comes from China. the US, Australia. Food costs have been contained because of the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. one.
Photo: Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 100.9
GDP per capita: $30,863
Consumption: 25.8%
Exports: -4.4%

With a large population in a highly-developed, small land area, Hong Kong imports a high percentage of its food, which offsets its high income. Fish is the only exception. Most of its food comes from China. the U.S. and Australia. Food costs have been contained because the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. one.

8. (Tied) Sudan

Index score: 100.9 GDP per capita: $1,353 Consumption: 52.9% Exports: -1.3% Sudan's agricultural output has been hurt by periodic drought and years of war. Low incomes and the high cost of food also place it in the top ten. A small percentage of aridable land is cultivated. The hot climate increases food spoilage. The nation produces a variety of grains, peanuts and fruit (papaya, mango, banana). Wheat is a major import.
Photo: Getty Images

Index score: 100.9
GDP per capita: $1,353
Consumption: 52.9%
Exports: -1.3%

Sudan's agricultural output has been hurt by periodic drought and years of war. Low incomes and the high cost of food also place it in the top ten. A small percentage of aridable land is cultivated. The hot climate increases food spoilage. The nation produces a variety of grains, peanuts and fruit (papaya, mango, banana). Wheat is a major import.

6. (Tied) Sri Lanka

Index score: 101.0 GDP per capita: $2,013 Consumption: 39.6% Exports: -2.7% Rice, coconut and tea production dominate Sri Lankan agriculture, Like Bangladesh, however, Sri lance's rice crop can be devastated by monsoons and flooding. Moreover, agriculture is not diversified, despite a variety of growing zones. The country imports rice and lentils, among other items, from the U.S.
Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 101.0
GDP per capita: $2,013
Consumption: 39.6%
Exports: -2.7%

Rice, coconut and tea production dominate Sri Lankan agriculture. Sri Lanka's rice crop can be devastated by monsoons and flooding. Moreover, agriculture is not diversified, despite a variety of growing zones. The country imports rice and lentils, among other items, from the U.S.

6. (Tied) Egypt

Index score: 101.0 GDP per capita: $1,991 Consumption: 48.1% Exports: -2.1% Low income, high food costs and a dependency on exports, place Egypt in the top ten. Like Algeria, Egypt has its share of food protests, which played a role in the recent revolution. Egypt imports a large amount of wheat, and is now competing with emerging Asia economies to get it. Adequate irrigation is a problem, which has lead to shortages in maize and oil-producing plants. Corn, beans. beets, onions, sugar are grown
Khaled Desouki | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 101.0
GDP per capita: $1,991
Consumption: 48.1%
Exports: -2.1%

Low income, high food costs and a dependency on exports, place Egypt in the top ten. Like Algeria, Egypt has its share of food protests, which played a role in the recent revolution. Egypt imports a large amount of wheat, and is now competing with emerging Asia economies to get it. Adequate irrigation is a problem, which has lead to shortages in maize and oil-producing plants. Corn, beans. beets, onions, sugar are grown there.

4. (Tied) Lebanon

Index score: 101.2 GDP per capita: $6,978 Consumption: 34.0% Exports: -3.9% Lebanon's export deficit helps explain its vulnerability despite high income and relatively low costs. Fruits and vegetables are produced, thanks to irrigation. Productivity is low, however, as is government support. Largely a services- and banking-driven economy, Lebanon imports a wide variety of items, from beef to cheese to wheat, as well as prepared foods.
Photo: Joseph Eid | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 101.2
GDP per capita: $6,978
Consumption: 34.0%
Exports: -3.9%

Lebanon's export deficit helps explain its vulnerability, despite high income and relatively low costs. Fruits and vegetables are produced, thanks to irrigation. Productivity is low, however, as is government support. Largely a services- and banking-driven economy, Lebanon imports a wide variety of items, from beef to cheese to wheat, as well as prepared foods.

4. (Tied) Nigeria

Index score: 101.2 GDP per capita: $1,370 Consumption: 73.0% Exports: -0.9% A diverse climate allows production of a wide variety of cash crops in Nigeria, led by peanuts, palm oil and cocoa. There's also beef, chicken and fish. The crude oil boom, however, encouraged workers to leave farming for higher wages. Rapid population and urbanization have hurt output. Wheat, sugar, milk powder, and consumer-ready food products are major imports
Photo: Foodcollection RF | Getty Images

Index score: 101.2
GDP per capita: $1,370
Consumption: 73.0%
Exports: -0.9%

A diverse climate allows production of a wide variety of cash crops in Nigeria, led by peanuts, palm oil and cocoa. There's also beef, chicken and fish. The crude oil boom, however, encouraged workers to leave farming for the energy sector's higher wages. Rapid population growth and urbanization have hurt output. Wheat, sugar, milk powder, and consumer-ready food products are major imports

2. (Tied) Algeria

Index score: 101.3 GDP per capita: $4,845 Consumption 53.0% Exports -2.8% Algeria has one of the highest export deficits and is also hurt by high population growth, offsetting significantly higher income than other nations in the top ten. Very little land is cultivated, water is scarce and productivity low. Food costs and shortages played a role in the recent revolt. Though the nation produces oils, figs, olives, citrus fruit and grains, it is a huge importer of cereals, notably wheat.
Photo: STR | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 101.3
GDP per capita: $4,845
Consumption 53.0%
Exports -2.8%

Algeria has one of the highest export deficits and is also hurt by high population growth, offsetting significantly higher income than other nations in the top ten. Very little land is cultivated, water is scarce and productivity low. Food costs and shortages played a role in the recent revolt. Though the nation produces oils, figs, olives, citrus fruit and grains, it is a huge importer of cereals, notably wheat.

2. (Tied) Morocco

Index score: 101.3 GDP per capita: $2,769Consumption: 63.0% Exports: -2.0% Though Morocco's per capital income is four times that of Bangladesh, more income is devoured by food Top imports include grains -- a good part of it from the U.S -- as well as coffee, tea and sugar. Otherwise, Morocco's fulfills its own food needs, with a wide range of domestically-grown products, such as olives, citrus fruits, grapes -- and the illegal hashish.
Photo: Abdelhak Senna | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 101.3
GDP per capita: $2,769
Consumption: 63.0%
Exports: -2.0%

Though Morocco's per capital income is four times that of Bangladesh, more income is devoured by food. Top imports include grains — a good part of it from the U.S — as well as coffee, tea and sugar. Otherwise, Morocco's fulfills its own food needs, with a wide range of domestically-grown products, such as olives, citrus fruits, grapes — and the illegal hashish.

1. Bangladesh

Index score: 101.5 GDP per capita: $497 Consumption: 53.8%Exports: -3.3% One of the poorest and most populous countries in the world, Bangladesh often falls victim to mother nature; frequent cyclones and flooding are hard on people and on the main crops (rice, tea and jute) . Almost half of the paltry per capital GDP is spent on food. What's more, what's exported (tea, fish) is offset by imports (rice and wheat).
Photo: Munir Uz Zaman | AFP | Getty Images

Index score: 101.5
GDP per capita: $497
Consumption: 53.8%
Exports: -3.3%

One of the poorest and most populous countries in the world, Bangladesh often falls victim to mother nature. Frequent cyclones and flooding are hard on people and the main crops (rice, tea and jute). Almost half of the paltry per capital GDP is spent on food. What's more, what's exported (tea, fish) is offset by imports (rice and wheat).