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24 September 2014
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Higher food and energy prices are a burden, says global poll


Nearly two-thirds (60%) of people in a new 26-nation poll commissioned by the BBC World Service say they are feeling the burden of recent rises in the cost of food and energy.

 

They say that the rising cost of food, and of fuel and electricity costs, has affected them and their family "a great deal".

 

The poll suggests that the rise in food prices is leading to changes in people's behaviour, particularly in poorer countries.

 

Many in the developing world say they are cutting back on what they eat because of the higher cost of food, with 63% in the Philippines and Panama, 61% in Kenya and 58% in Nigeria saying they are now eating less.

 

Coupled with this, nearly half (43%) of the 27,319 people surveyed say that the higher cost of food has caused them to change what they eat and, again, this was most apparent in the developing world with people in Panama (71%), Egypt (67%), Kenya (64%) and the Philippines (63%) among the most likely to have changed their diet.

 

In developed countries like Australia (27%), the UK (25%), and Germany (10%), far fewer say that the rise in food prices has caused them to cut back on what they eat.

 

In general, those in developed countries have also not changed what they eat in response to the higher prices - notably, only 17% in Spain, 19% in Poland, and 24% in Germany say they have changed their diets.

 

The poll also shows that 70% of people across the world are unhappy with what their national government is doing to keep food prices affordable.

 

Very high proportions of dissatisfied citizens are found in Egypt (88% dissatisfied), the Philippines (86%) and Lebanon (85%), as well as in some developed countries such as France (79%), Russia (78%) and Italy (74%).

 

Respondents were asked how much the rises in the cost of energy, including petrol, had negatively affected them and their family.

 

Overall, 60% say that increased energy costs are affecting them and their family a great deal and, again, it is those in developing economies who seem to be feeling the effects most - 95% in the Philippines, 93% in Egypt, 84% in Indonesia, 83% in Kenya and Lebanon and 81% in Mexico.

 

Majorities in several developed countries also say they have been affected a great deal - 61% in Italy, 59% in France and 58% in the United States.

 

GlobeScan Chairman, Doug Miller, commented: "While governments around the world are now preoccupied with the financial crisis, it is clear that many of their citizens feel they aren't doing enough to relieve the burden of high food prices, which is falling on those who can least afford it."

 

The results are drawn from a survey of 27,319 adult citizens across 26 countries conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

 

GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between 8 July and 15 September 2008.

 

Notes to Editors

 

Detailed findings - Majorities in each of the 26 countries included in the poll, except China, say they have been negatively affected by rising food and energy prices "a great deal" or "a fair amount".

 

Remarkably, close to 100% of citizens in several developing countries have been affected "a great deal" or "a fair amount" by rising food prices - examples include Egypt and the Philippines (98%), Kenya and Indonesia (96%), and Nigeria (95%).

 

Among the 11 developed nations included in the poll, France, Italy, Poland and Russia appear to have been most affected by rising food prices, with majorities (80% and higher) saying they have been negataffected "a great deal" or "a fair amount".

 

Three-quarters or more citizens in 22 of the 26 countries included in the poll say they have been negatively affected "a great deal" or "a fair amount" by rising energy prices.

 

Those in developing countries appear to be among the most affected, with over 90% in the Philippines (98%), Egypt (97%), Indonesia (97%), Kenya (95%), Panama (95%), Lebanon (93%), Mexico (93%) and Nigeria (93%) saying they have been affected "a great deal" or "a fair amount" by rising energy prices.

 

Among the developed nations, citizens in Italy and Poland have been affected most by rising energy prices with about nine in ten in each country saying they have been affected "a great deal" or "a fair amount" by rising energy prices.

 

There is considerable variation between countries in terms of how much people have changed their behaviour in response to rising food prices.

 

In developed nations, most have neither changed what they eat, nor started to eat less overall.

 

Among developing nations, majorities in Panama (71%), Egypt (67%), Kenya (64%), the Philippines (63%) and Mexico (57%) say they have changed what they eat.

 

In other developing nations, however, most say they have not changed their diet – Turkey (75%), the United Arab Emirates (62%), China (61%) and Lebanon (58%).

 

When it comes to eating less, majorities in all except four countries say they have not reduced the amount of food they eat because of rising food prices.

 

The exceptions are Panama (63%), the Philippines (63%), Kenya (61%) and Nigeria (58%), where majorities say they are eating less overall because of rising food prices.

 

Dissatisfaction with national government efforts to ensure food remains affordable is very apparent – majorities in 23 of the 26 countries included in the poll say they are "dissatisfied".

 

China is an exception, where two-thirds are satisfied with their government's performance in this area (66%).

 

In the United Arab Emirates and India, pluralities are dissatisfied with their government's performance (47% and 49%, respectively).

 

The "most dissatisfied" citizens - countries where three-quarters or more citizens are dissatisfied with their government's performance on ensuring food remains affordable - include the developing nations of Egypt (88%), the Philippines (86%), Lebanon (85%), Indonesia (82%), Turkey (82%) and Nigeria (75%), as well as the developed nations of South Korea (81%), France (79%) and Russia (78%).

 

Region-by-region analysis

 

North America

 

The results from the United States and Canada suggest that rising energy prices have had more of an impact on people's lives than rising food prices in North America.

 

Well below average numbers in both countries (43% in the United States and 27% in Canada) say that the rising cost of food has affected them "a great deal".

 

The great majority say they have not reduced their food intake.

 

In contrast, 58% in the United States and 42% in Canada say that rising energy costs have affected them a great deal - much closer to the average of all countries polled.

 

Canadians, however, are relatively satisfied by international standards with their government's efforts to keep food prices affordable (40% satisfied).

 

South and Central America

 

In contrast to North America, the cost of food seems to be having a major impact on the lives of South and Central Americans, with about four in five in all countries polled in the region (Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama) saying they have been affected "a great deal" by the rise in food prices.

 

Mexicans are also among the most likely to say that their lives are being affected "a great deal" by rising energy prices (81%).

 

In contrast, though, while most Brazilians say they are not eating less (68%), only 34% of Panamanians say they have not had to cut back.

 

Across the region, a little over two-thirds are dissatisfied with their government's attempts to control food price rises.

 

Europe

 

Compared with other developed nations in North America, more Europeans claim that food price rises are affecting their lives, with two-thirds or more of the public in all European countries saying that they have been affected at least "a fair amount".

 

In two countries (France 53% and Italy 50%) at least half say they have been affected "a great deal".

 

Slightly more Europeans polled generally say they have been affected by energy price rises than by food price rises.

 

In both cases, Britons are the least likely to say they have been affected among the European countries polled.

 

Despite this sense that their lives are being affected by the rise in food prices, below average proportions in most European countries say they have either changed their diet or cut back on what they eat.

 

Except in Spain (32% satisfied) and Germany (27%), the level of satisfaction with government efforts to keep food affordable is below average.

 

Middle East

 

There is considerable variation across the Middle Eastern countries polled in public response to these issues.

 

Egyptians, on the one hand, seem to have been severely affected by these developments - the vast majority say the food price (94%) and energy price (93%) rises are affecting them a great deal, two-thirds have changed their diet, and 88% are critical of what their government is doing to manage food prices.

 

While the Lebanese are nearly as downbeat, the picture is much less stark in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Turkey, indeed, is the country where one of the smallest proportions of all in the survey - just 10% - say they are eating less because of rising food prices.

 

Despite this, 82% of Turks are critical of their government's efforts to keep food affordable.

 

Emiratis, in contrast, seem relatively supportive of their government's efforts in this area - almost as many are satisfied (45%) as are dissatisfied (47%) - a much more rosy assessment than in most countries.

 

Africa

 

What stands out most in the results from the African countries surveyed - Kenya and Nigeria - is that they are among the countries where people are most likely to be cutting back on what they eat because of the rising cost of food.

 

Sixty-one per cent of Kenyans and 58% of Nigerians say they have done so.

 

Not surprisingly in this context, very high proportions (82% in Kenya and 83% in Nigeria) say that the price rises are affecting them "a great deal".

 

But, despite this, more are satisfied with their government's efforts to address the issue than in several European countries (27% in Kenya and 24% in Nigeria).

 

Asia and Oceania

 

This region contains a number of countries (the Philippines 93%), India (80%), and Indonesia (78%) where very large majorities say that the rise in the cost of the food is affecting them "a great deal".

 

At the other end of the scale, though, in developed nations such as Australia (35%) and South Korea (34%), far fewer think that food price rises have affected them "a great deal".

 

In India, furthermore, the contrast with the perceived impact of energy price rises is stark - just 365 feel that this has negatively affected them "a great deal".

 

China is the outlier here in many respects, and is the only country where most people disagree that the rise in the cost of energy has had a negative impact on their lives.

 

In this context, it is perhaps not surprising that they are also the only country where a majority (66%) are satisfied with what their government is doing to keep food prices affordable.

 

BBC World Service Press Office

 

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Category: World Service
Date: 16.10.2008
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