Pasta, pizza, or paella? Global food survey reveals world's favorite foods

Think you know what’s cooking in Kenya? Or what’s on your plate in Pakistan? How about what’s for breakfast in Brazil?

To find out more about how and what the world is eating, Oxfam asked over 16,000 people in 17 countries about the food they eat and love. The results (both fascinating and alarming) show that, despite diverse tastes and availability, we may have more in common than you think.*

What is your favorite food?

Do you like pasta, meat and rice? If so, you’ll never have to eat alone – they’re the world’s three favorite foods!

The bad news is, rice and wheat are getting more expensive. As our survey shows, this will affect you whether you’re from Germany or Guatemala. Wheat prices, for example, are projected to rise by as much as 120% by 2030, partly due to the affects of climate change.

Interesting? Italian, Chinese, Indian and Mexican were consistently identified as favorite types of cuisine.

Do you have enough to eat?

People are going hungry everywhere, but if you live in the developing world chances are you don’t have enough to eat. If you’ve got a full belly in Mexico or Pakistan, you’re in the minority. If you’ve got a full belly in Kenya or Tanzania, you’re the lucky one out of every four people.

Interesting: 8% of people in USA feel they don’t always have enough to eat.

How does food get onto your plate?

That depends where you live. If you’re in Australia or Africa, you’d probably say drought is a big factor. If you’re in Pakistan you’d blame the government response to the floods. If you’re in India or Mexico, you might think access to credit, equipment, fertilizers and seeds was the most important factor.

Most people, no matter where they live, say rising oil and transport costs, or the impact of weather and natural disasters are the most important factor affecting food supply. This is a worry for everyone, with scientists predicting extreme weather events are on the increase.

Other factors that have people worried are government policies, the actions of big corporations and consumer demand.

Interesting: In South Africa, 41% of people felt the price of oil and transportation was the main factor affecting food supply.

What concerns you most about the food you eat?

Every night, a billion people go to bed hungry. When we asked why, most people’s biggest concern was the cost of food (66% said this was their most pressing concern).

This was not only a worry for people in developing countries. Kenya (88%) and the UK (78%) polled the highest percentage of people worried about this.

Interesting: Kenya (57%) and Tanzania (45%) had the highest proportions of people concerned about the availability of food (average 18%).

Has your diet changed?

People aren’t eating the same things or in the same way as they were two years ago. The rising cost of certain foods and health concerns were given as the major reasons.

Over 50% of the people we asked said they no longer eat some of the food they did two years ago. 39% of these people blamed the increased cost of those foods.

People also want healthy food. In India, the Philippines, the USA and South Africa high numbers of people told us they’d changed the foods they eat for health reasons.

Interesting: In Kenya, an alarming 68% strongly agreed that their diet had changed with just under 80% of those people saying this was due to increased food prices.

*Based on a survey conducted for Oxfam by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. Polling included 16,422 adults aged 16+ in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, the Netherlands, UK and US between 6 April and 6 May 2011.

Download the GROW Campaign 2011– Global Opinion Research – Final Topline Report (PDF, 2.7MB)

The figures have been weighted and are representative of all countries. The majority of the countries were surveyed online, while a few participated through face-to-face or telephone interviews. In some countries the samples differ markedly from the national population profile due to lower levels of internet connectivity.