State of Food and Nutrition in the World (2022)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Resource type:
Advocacy and policy

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 has been prepared by the FAO Agrifood Economics Division in collaboration with the Statistics Division of the Economic and Social Development Stream and a team of technical experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

This report repeatedly highlights the intensification of these major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition: conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks, combined with growing inequalities. The issue at stake is not whether adversities will continue to occur or not, but how we must take bolder action to build resilience against future shocks.

While last year’s report highlighted the pathways to transform agrifood systems, the reality is that it is easier said than done. Global economic growth prospects for 2022 have been revised downward significantly; hence, more limited financial resources are available to invest in agrifood systems. Public-private partnerships will be extremely important for investments in agrifood systems. Robust governance will also be important to ensure that such partnerships ultimately benefit communities and people in greatest need.

This report shows that governments can invest in agrifood systems equitably and sustainably, even with the same level of public resources. Governments’ support to food and agriculture accounts for almost USD 630 billion per year globally. However, a significant proportion of this support distorts market prices, is environmentally destructive, and hurts small-scale producers and Indigenous Peoples, while failing to deliver healthy diets to children and others who need them the most.

The evidence suggests that if governments repurpose the resources to prioritize food consumers, and to incentivize sustainable production, supply and consumption of nutritious foods, they will help make healthy diets less costly and more affordable for all

In all contexts, reforms to repurpose support to food and agriculture must also be accompanied by policies that promote shifts in consumer behaviours along with social protection policies to mitigate unintended consequences of reforms for vulnerable populations. Finally, these reforms must be multisectoral, encompassing health, environment, transport and energy policies

The Introduction 1st Chapter discusses the need for repurposing policy support to make

healthy diets more affordable, sustainably and inclusively; and establishing stronger links between food and agricultural policy support and the cost of nutritious foods. 

The 2nd Chapter on Food Security and Nutrition Around the World, details the latest updates and progress towards ending hunger and ensuring food security; the Global trends; assesses the potential impacts of current crises on global nutrition; and Persisting inequalities such as Gender differences in food insecurity. 

Chapter 3 takes stock of how much ‘Food And Agricultural Policy Support In The World’ costs and affects the affordability and availability of diets; Status of the current policy support to food and agriculture; and how that affects agrifood systems; Subsidies to consumers and producers; and How policy support differs across food groups and commodities over time;  

Chapter 4 discusses the potential options to repurpose policy support to food and agriculture for improving affordability of a healthy diet; the potential impacts of reallocating food and agricultural policy support differently to reduce the cost of nutritious foods ; Complementing policies needed in agrifood systems to ensure such policy success, including environmental and climate-related policies, Health system policies, transportation and energy policies ; Governance mechanisms and regulatory frameworks needed; Monitoring and evaluation

And the report concludes with Chapter 5 detailing the important insights to keep in mind, such as when repurposing existing public support, fiscal subsidies etc. It states that globally, the trade-off between increasing the affordability of a healthy diet and reducing impact of negative externalities in agriculture, in the market, would be more apparent should fiscal subsidies to producers be repurposed to target nutritious foods.

Key messages 

  • Around 2.3 billion people in the world were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021, and 11.7 percent of the global population faced food insecurity at severe levels. è Projections are that nearly 670 million people will still be facing hunger in 2030 – 8 percent of the world population, which is the same as in 2015 when the 2030 Agenda was launched
  • The affordability of a healthy diet measures the average cost of the diet relative to income; therefore, changes over time can be the result of changes in the cost of the diet, people’s income, or both
  • The recent setbacks indicate that policies are no longer delivering increasing marginal returns in reducing hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms.
  • Worldwide support to food and agriculture accounted for almost USD 630 billion per year on average over 2013–2018. The lion share of it is targeted to farmers individually, through trade and market policies and fiscal subsidies largely tied to production or unconstrained use of variable production inputs
  • Support to agricultural production largely concentrates on staple foods, dairy and other animal source protein-rich foods, especially in high- and upper-middle-income countries
  • Trade and market interventions can act as trade barriers for nutritious foods undermining the availability and affordability of healthy diets.
  • Done smartly and informed by evidence, involving all stakeholders, keeping in mind countries’ political economies and institutional capabilities, repurposing existing public support can help increase the availability of nutritious foods to the consumer. It can contribute to making healthy diets less costly and more affordable all over the world, a necessary
  • When repurposing public support to make healthy diets less costly, policymakers have to avoid potential inequality trade-offs that may emerge if farmers are not in a position to specialize in the production of nutritious foods due to resource constraints
  • Given the diversity of each country’s context, repurposing efforts will need strong institutions on a local, national and global level, as well as engaging and incentivizing stakeholders from the public sector, the private sector and international organizations