National Nutrition Council (NNC) Mimaropa Nutrition Program Coordinator Ma. Eileen B. Blanco determined factors of Filipinos’ insufficient access to affordable food during the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Mimaropa’s Virtual Presser held on July 3, 2023.
Based on the study comparing the cost of nutritious diet and how much an average Filipino male adult’s food expenditure, it showed that Filipinos tend to misallocate food spending. The results showed that Filipinos spend more on starchy staples like rice and less on vegetables and fruits. However, the average food expenditure is still below the cost of nutritious diet.
“The challenge is becoming more difficult as food is getting more expensive in the Philippines. Kung mapapansin natin pataas ng pataas ang mga presyo ng mga bilihin na pagkain sa Pilipinas,” said Blanco.
According to the World Bank, Filipinos pay 40% higher for food compared to Philippines’ nation neighbors because of continued focus on supporting rice production to the detriment of other agricultural products. Higher levels of trade protection for nutrient-rich foods increases cost of production compared to cheaper imports.
Blanco identified recommendable actions for sustainable healthy diets:
- Address inequities and inequalities and consider the perspective of people who experience poverty and deprivation;
- Promote capacity development strategies for behavior change, including consumer empowerment and effective food and nutrition education;
- Quantify and balance the potential trade-offs to make sustainable healthy diets available, accessible, affordable, safe, and appealing for all; and
- Develop national food-based dietary guidelines that define context-specific sustainable healthy diets by considering the social, cultural, economic, ecological, and environmental circumstances.
Additionally, the NNC is set to launch the nutrition month with its theme “Healthy Diet, Gawing Affordable for All!” which aims to promote food and nutrition security, specifically affordability, and ensure the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food and be free from hunger. The campaign calls for relevant stakeholders to transform the food system and its key internal drivers to ensure affordability of nutritious foods as part of a healthy diet. (GATS/PIA Mimaropa)