OPINION: Food policy instruments to stimulate healthy eating and food security

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa is a country of dichotomies and ironies and there is no economic sector that that typifies this more than the agri-food sector. 

South Africa is food secure at a national level, but food insecure at the individual household level. Thus, food security and healthy eating present policy a dilemma for policy makers in the country. Balancing economic and welfare policy making is a precarious endeavour. 

Addressing food security, inclusive agri-food sector and healthy eating is a case in point. The raison d′ȇtre of the agri-food sector is to provide food at a profit rather than balancing societal welfare. However, the importance of the latter cannot be overlooked. Pricing strategies are important in the marketing mix and useful in addressing food security issues, market access by smallholder farmers and stimulating healthier food choices. 

Economic theory postulates that price is an important determinant of consumers’ choice. Therefore, pricing can be employed as a policy tool to deal with the issues of both food security and healthy eating. However, competing interests and feasibility problems between producers, retailers and consumers compound pricing strategies.

Food presents ironies in that in some countries, there is food insecurity and in other countries, a large proportion of the population is obese. South Africa models this irony. South Africa ranks among the most obese societies together with the likes of the US  and Australia. Furthermore, South Africa is food secure at national level while food insecure at household. 

Source: iol.co.za