Trends in food and rice eaten away from home in Vietnam

AuthorThi Thuy Nguyen,Thi Thu Trang Truong,Le Hoa Nguyen
Published date01 May 2019
Date01 May 2019
World Food Policy. 2019;5:35–51.
© 2019 Policy Studies Organization
DOI: 10.1002/wfp2.12003
Trends in food and rice eaten away from home in
Le HoaNguyen
Thi Thu TrangTruong
Thi ThuyNguyen
Institute of Policy and Strategy
and Agriculture and Rural
Development,Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development, Vietnam
This study analyzes Vietnam's food and rice consumption,
especially rice consumption outside home using Vietnam
households living standard surveys data 2002–2014. Our
study estimates consumption of rice and rice products, not
rice alone as in previous studies. The study also assesses
how income affects households' rice consumption at home
and away from home. Our results show as household in-
come increases, food and rice shares in household total
expenditure decrease. Food and rice expenditures outside
home increase with household's wealth. Rice consumption
away from home of urban residents is higher than in rural
areas. There is an increasing trend of purchasing rice and
downward trend of rice self‐sufficiency in poorer groups
in rural areas. Regression results indicate that income has
an effect on rice consumption. It confirms the declining
trend of rice consumption at home and the rising trend of
rice consumption outside home for richer group in Vietnam
food expenditure and consumption, rice consumption, rice consumption
away from home
Vietnam has been experiencing an economic transition period with marked and rapid economy de-
velopment, from late 1990s to present. After more than 20years of economic reform and openness,
Vietnam reached its US$1,000 gross domestic product (GDP) per capita threshold in 2008. Rapid
economic growth has led to dramatic changes in the economic and sociodemographic structures of
the population. According to Vietnam General Statistics Office (GSO), real total expenditures dou-
bled, from US$226.2 (3,459,000 Vietnamese Dong [VND]) to US$402.1 (7,304,000 VND) between
2002 and 2010. Food is still important in the consumption basket of Vietnamese consumers as food
expenditure accounts for 40 percent of total expenditures during this period (Hoang & Meyers, 2015).
Vietnam is currently in the early stages of changing the structure of food consumption. It is forecasted
that by 2020, the Vietnamese population will reach 98.6 million persons and the per capita rice con-
sumption in the country will be reduced due to increasing consumption of meat, milk, vegetables,
seafood, and fruits in accordance with the increase in income and urbanization. In a research of World
Bank (WB) and Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD)
in 2016, it is found that for urban areas, spending on rice decreased from 25 percent (2002) to 17.2
percent (2012) while expenditures for livestock products increased from 32.7 percent to 37.8 percent
in the same period. In rural areas, rice spending decreased from 38.9 percent to 25.4 percent and ex-
penditures for livestock products increased from 23.4 percent to 34 percent.
Demand for food in Vietnam is known to be influenced by various factors. Those include consum-
ers' income levels, dietary habits, food prices whether the person resides in rural or urban areas, the
availability of supermarkets, restaurants and fast‐food vendors, and so on. At the country level, the
trends and patterns of food demand, especially basic staples such as rice, also depend largely on stages
of economic development. As Huang and David (1993) indicated, per capita rice consumption across
Asian countries tends to increase in low‐income countries. Meanwhile, it decreases in higher income
ones as people of these countries have higher incomes. Their study also found that urbanization had
negative effects on rice consumption, meaning that people eat less rice as they are more urbanized.
Per capita consumption of rice is expected to decline as consumers get richer and more urbanized
but demand for high‐quality rice may rise (Pingali, Hossain, & Gerpacio, 1997). As the living stan-
dard improved and with increased income, Vietnamese people, especially in urban area, have paid
more attention to other essential needs, especially the need for a healthy diet and nutrition. Since
1990s, dietary intake changed significantly as to the changes of income per capita and lifestyle. Food
expenditure and food consumption are important factors reflecting the households' food security and
the quality of the diet, particularly. Currently, income in Vietnam is still quite low compared to other
developed countries and consumers still focus mainly on daily basic foods. However, when the income
increases, tastes and preferences of Vietnamese consumers will change. They will focus more on foods
that meet their needs and have good brand. Vietnam consumers are increasingly more aware clearly
of the problem on food hygiene and origin when their living conditions are improving and they care
more for health.
Ito, Peterson, and Grant (1989) did an empirical study on rice consumption in Asia using aggregate
national‐level data. The authors concluded that rice was an inferior good in high‐income Asian coun-
tries. They estimated the income elasticity of rice in Japan to be −0.091 in 1964 and −0.708 in 1984.
Kako, Gemma, and Ito (1997) projected Japanese rice demand by applying a log‐linear function esti-
mated by ordinary least square (OLS) using time series data for the period 1970–1991. These authors
supported their colleagues' results; they found evidence that rice was an inferior good and that meat
products were substitutes for rice. The estimated own‐price elasticity was −0.130, and expenditure
elasticity was −0.308.

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