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The Right and Wrong Price of Healthy Food

AAEA members look into food markets and nutrition at session at ASSA

For several decades now agricultural economists have been concerned about the costliness of healthy diets even in the most developed countries. But if ‘food deserts’ are a problem in the rich world, they might be the norm in poorer parts of the world, and one of the main reasons so many poor children are dangerously undernourished. Cognizant that agriculture has a role to play in solving the global burden of undernutrition, developing country governments and major international development agencies have mainstreamed nutrition outcomes into their policies and programs, and integrated agriculture into multi-sectoral nutrition strategies. Despite this renewed interest, however, surprisingly little is known about how agriculture can make nutritious foods more affordable.

In an AAEA session taking place at the Allied Social Science Associations Annual Meeting entitled “Food Markets and Nutrition,” four presentations will look into improving the affordability of nutritious foods in different parts of the developing world.

Session organizer, Derek Headey from the International Food Policy Research Institute says, “Job number one for a nutrition-sensitive food policies is to improve the affordability of nutritious foods, particularly foods that are important for children. This could be through domestic production, but also through trade. On top of that, I think some of these papers suggest that policymakers also need to think about the demand side, particularly improving knowledge about highly nutritious foods like eggs, dairy and fish, and how important it is to feed these foods to infants and young children.”

Presentations in this session:

  • Why are nutritious foods so expensive? Economic development and the cost of nutritious diets across 169 countries
    Steve Block, Tufts University, Robel Alemu, Tufts University, Will Masters, Tufts University, and Derek Headey, IFPRI
  • The right price of milk: Dairy market distortions and child nutrition in the developing world
    William J. Martin, IFPRI, Derek Headey, IFPRI David Laborde Debucquet, IFPRI
  • Eggs before chickens? Poultry, poverty and nutrition in West Africa
    Kwaw Andam, IFPRI, Channing Arndt, IFPRI, Faaiqa Hartley, IFPRI, Derek Headey, IFPRI
  • The market for lemons … and 95 other foods in rural Ethiopia
    John Hoddinott, Cornell University, Kalle Hirvonen, IFPII, Derek Headey, IFPRI, and David Stifel, Lafayette College

This session will be taking place on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 12:30 pm – 2:15 pm at the Hilton Atlanta. To attend this session please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office for your complimentary Media Registration.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190