Modelling nutrient trade in the Pacific 

Modelling nutrient trade in the Pacific 

Food imported from overseas features in the diets of almost everyone, and food trade has an important role in global economics. But how important is it for human nutrition? Extending existing work with the University of São Paulo, SNi® has taken on a project for the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries modelling nutrient trade between members of APEC: 21 global economies located in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Food trade data is often analysed to answer questions about economics, international policy, and food security. This project converted that food trade data into constituent nutrients and compared against national nutrient supply and requirement. 

The work identified that most member economies traded mostly with other APEC members, rather than beyond this group, and also that APEC as a whole was a net food importer. 

Calcium and vitamin E, the nutrients identified as in shortfall against requirements globally, were also undersupplied compared to population requirements in almost all APEC economies. Most members had deficient supply of several other micronutrients, with the members in SE Asia most deficient. 

When combining nutrient supply data with that on trade relationships, it was possible to find the economies most at risk from disruption to single trade relationships. These were largely the economies with small land area and high populations, which rely almost entirely on imports for food security. Again, it was micronutrient supply that was most at risk from disruption. 

This research is useful for trade policy, allowing governments to see where trade dependencies and vulnerabilities exist for nutrition security, and how they might mitigate these risks. 


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