Singapore is 2nd in the world for most affordable food – but local diets lack good protein: EIU Report

While global food prices have been rising steadily over the past five years, Singaporeans can well afford food, a report on food security has found.
The Straits Times
  • Singapore ranks second in the world for both food affordability and availability, according to the Global Food Security Index 2019.

  • The change in average food costs from 2010 was 19.2% – far lower than the world average of 86.4%.

  • Global food prices have been rising steadily over the past five years.

  • However, Singapore came in 25th for food quality, due to the unhealthy diets of people here, which are carb-heavy and lack quality protein.

Think food is pricey in Singapore? You might be forced to swallow your words – after the state of Qatar, the Republic has been found to have the most affordable food in the world, according to the latest Global Food Security Index.

The index, published on Monday (Dec 9) by the Economist Intelligence Unit, also listed Singapore as the country with the world’s highest food security, considering factors such as nutritional standards, changes in cost of food, and public spending on agriculture.

The republic maintained its first place ranking from last year.

However, when an additional resiliency factor was considered, Singapore fell to 11th place due to its dependency on food imports and vulnerability to sea level rises, while Ireland rose from second place to take the top spot.

Qatar, Singapore have highest food affordability

In terms of affordability, Qatar topped the list with a score of 98.9 out of 100, followed by Singapore (95.4), Ireland (90.5), the UAE (89.8) and Kuwait (88.1).

Aatar, which came in 13th place overall on this year’s food security ranking, boasted the world’s highest food affordability, followed by Singapore in second place.
Global Food Security Index

Within Asia, Singapore took top spot again for affordability, followed by Japan (82.4), Malaysia (81.7), Kazakhstan (77.5), Thailand (77.1) and South Korea (75.8).

According to the report, the change to average food costs from 2010 for Singapore was 19.2 per cent – far lower than the global average increase of 86.4 per cent.

Read also: 91% of Singaporeans are satisfied with hawker centres – and most are happiest with the affordable food

In addition, the report found that while global food prices had been rising steadily over the past five years, Singaporeans boasted an average income of US$101,000 a year (about five times the global average of US$23,000) and could well afford food.

The entire population ranks above the global poverty line (income under US$3.20 per day) and suffered zero undernourishment or food deprivation, it added.

Read also: Singapore’s getting a new govt body – and its priority is to make sure the country has enough food

Switzerland, Singapore have greatest food availability

The Republic also came in second in the world for availability of food, with the top spot going to Switzerland. Rounding out the top five were Noway, Canada and Germany.

The report said Singapore had above-average levels of food for the population’s dietary energy requirements, and the Government spent over 10 times the global average on agricultural R&D investments.

However, the country suffered from volatile agricultural production and a total lack of crop storage facilities and irrigation infrastructure.

In terms of food safety and quality, Singapore came in 25th, with the top three spots going to Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Its ranking was heavily impacted by the unhealthy national diet: heavy on starchy foods such as rice and bread, and lacking in quality protein (measured by the presence of nine essential amino acids) and nutrients like iron, zinc, and Vitamin A.

The report added that diets in Africa and Asia had the lowest availability of Vitamin A, zinc, iron and protein.

A lack of Vitamin A (found in leafy vegetables) can cause blindness, while a lack of iron  (found in red meat and green vegetables) can cause anaemia.

A lack of zinc (found in meat, beans and yoghurt) can compromise immune function and lead to infections.

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