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PFSO Where Demographics Will Take the Food System 04-03

Where Demographics Will
Take The Food System

OAK BROOK, IL Oct. 16, 2003: Demographic changes in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 20 years will generate powerful economic forces that will demand the close attention of food system policymakers, according to a report issued today by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).

The report, Where Demographics Will Take the Food System , was released Oct. 16 in Bangkok at the annual meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers.

Expanded urban concentration, variability in population growth within the region, and an aging population base will drive substantial change in food production and delivery systems, said Walter J. Armbruster, president of Farm Foundation and chairman of the Pacific Food System Outlook 2003-2004 (PFSO).  Public and private sector policy makers must be cognizant of these demographic changes and their implications for business and policy.

The magnitude of the demographic impacts on the food system is dramatic.
•  The region's urban populations are expected to grow by 590 million in the next 20 years. China's urban population is expected to grow by 300 million people, an increase of 67%; almost half of those people will move in from rural areas.
•  Japan , currently the leading importer of food and agricultural products, has the most rapidly aging economy in the region, with total population numbers also expected to shrink.
•  Despite its status as a developed country, the United States will be a growth market for food, as immigration results in rapid population growth and demand for ethnic foods increase.Across the region, public and private investment in domestic food system infrastructure, as well as more liberal food trade policies, will be needed to ensure the cost and operational efficiency of the food system. More affluent and health-conscious consumers will demand greater quality, variety and convenience from the food system. In response, decision makers must anticipate the needs for trained personnel to implement and monitor quality control systems.

The region's total population is expected to increase by 400 million people, though that growth will vary significantly across the region. Rapid population and economic growth in developing and middle-income economies will increase their influence in the Pacific food system, further altering production, consumption and trade patterns. 

Offsetting the positive impacts of expanded populations and urbanization, the regions food system will see some negative impact from the aging of the region's population, which is expected to result in slightly lower per capita food consumption and a shift in the composition of food demand, the economists forecast. This has important implications for producers, processors and retailers. An aging population also has adverse impacts on economic growth, a leading driver of food demand.

Where Demographics Will Take the Food System is available  here.

Pacific Food System Outlook is a project of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), in collaboration with Farm Foundation and the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ( promotes open trade and economic cooperation among its 21 members around the Pacific Rim. Pacific Economic Cooperation Council ( ), whose members include 23 economies, is a regional forum promoting economic development in the Asia-Pacific region.












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