Éliás, Boglárka Anna

Keywords: Keywords: food availability, food access, purchasing power, food supply, diet JEL code: Q18, Q21, R22

Food prices increased by 23% between 2015 and 2020, while average annual net per capita income increased by 61%, and between 2022 and 2023, food prices increased by 59%, while incomes increased by 33%. The increase in food prices significantly outpacing income growth calls for a re-evaluation of Hungary's food security status. The study follows the conceptual framework of food security, i.e. it examines food availability, utilization, physical and economic access to food, and the stability of these factors. Public data (KSH, Nébih, EFSA, WHO, OTÁP) and data collected through an online, non-representative (n=300) questionnaire survey were processed and evaluated. The results of the analysis show that availability and physical access are generally achieved in Hungary, with the Achilles' heel of food security being the joint dimension of economic access and utilization, namely the affordability of quality dietary food. The 2019 OTÁP survey showed that the consumption of important sources of vitamins, essential fatty acids and dietary fibre (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses, fish, nuts, oilseeds) is below the dietary recommendations. An analysis of the relationship (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient) between food consumption and average income by income decile between 2015 and 2020 showed that people with higher incomes consumed more fruits (rs=0.988), fish (rs=0.976), vegetables and potatoes (rs=0.964) and meat (rs=0.915), i.e. they consumed more of the foods essential for a healthy diet as highlighted by the OTÁP than people with lower incomes. Among those who have completed my questionnaire, the average monthly income of those who consumed less of these foods compared to the period before January 2022 underperformed the average income of the whole sample by 3-14 percent, with food price increases being the primary reason given for the change. And the average income of respondents who consumed more of the above-mentioned foods exceeded the average income of the sample by 13-27 percent. This implies that the quality gap between the diets of low- and high-income households will continue to widen as a result of food price increases between 2022 and 2023.
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