Food Fight–Part Deux–USA vs India

The food fight between President Bush and India is showing no signs of dampening. Pradeep Mehta, the Secretary General of CUTS (Center for International Trade, Economics and Environment), a private economic research organization called Americans to slim down and eat less so that the poorest of the poor can eat marginally better has further aggravated the war of words. Jairam Ramesh, with the Indian Commerce Ministry, told members of Indian Press that President Bush

has never been known for his knowledge of economics,” and the remarks proved again how “comprehensively wrong” he is.

Mr. Bush and U.S. Secretary of State, Condi Rice are being thoroughly lambasted in the Asian Press for their grossly misleading statements. The graphic from the New York Times that roundly discredits Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice. Here compare for yourself, the average American Citizen chowed down 93 pounds of beef and 99 pounds of chicken in 2006, whereas in India the average consumption was 3 and 4 pounds respectively. Wow, no wonder the price of food is going up because…you know what it is obvious to me that Indians are eating more…hmmm….hmmmmm! Can’t the people in State Department learn to read statistics before they make uninformed statements.

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Refrigerator Ownership and the Rise of the Supermarkets

Yesterday, we had an interesting discussion on Refrigerator Ownership and its relationship to bulk shopping in malls and grocery stores and daily shopping in small farmers markets in many developing countries. My argument was that increase in bulk shopping or weekly shopping is associated with globalization as well as increase in appliance sales in developing countries. For instance with the growth in appliance sales, particularly refrigerator ownership in developing nations, small farmer markets selling locally grown produce has been declining. This decline in locally grown produce is associated with increase in refrigerator ownership and use, which has not only increased electricity consumption, but also introduced the concept of mall shopping and large grocery supermarkets, a Western or rather American concept, which is rapidly over-taking developing states such as India and China. A new brand of refrigerator launched by the Korean firm Samsung is expected to rake in sales of 65 million dollars in India within the first year of launch.

For example, refrigerator ownership in Peru was about 10 percent, by the year 2020 it is expected to increase to 80 percent; similarly, in South Africa refrigerator ownership was below 10 percent, and it is expected to increase to 70 percent by the year 2020. This data is derived from a study done by Michael A. McNeil and Virginie E. Letschert of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. I have linked the article here; you can check it for yourself. As I pointed out in class, increase in refrigerator ownership seems to be correlated with the decline in traditional markets.