1University Of Montreal, Montreal, Canada.
Introduction: According to the EAT Lancet commission and the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide 2019 (CFG), a dietary transition based on the consumption of fresh or minimally processed foods and avoiding ultra-processed foods would be beneficial for the health of Canadians. However, little research has examined the economic implications of this transition in Canada. Objective: To estimate the economic costs generated by ultra-processed foods on the revenues of Canadian farmers. Methodology: Eleven categories of commonly consumed food products were classified as healthy or unhealthy according to their level of processing (based on the NOVA classification) and dietary recommendations. A macroeconomic input-output model (IOM) was used to estimate how a dollar spent by the consumer in 2017 on selected food products was distributed among the different sectors of the Canadian food system. Results: In 2017, demand for fresh and minimally processed foods were more beneficial to the farmers revenues than demand for ultra-processed products, while the opposite was true for food processors. Farmers received 5-10 times higher revenue share when fresh foods were bought by consumer compared to ultra-processed foods. Conclusions: These results are consistent with the recommendations of the EAT Lancet and the CFG to limit highly processed foods and favor a plant-based diet based on fresh or minimally processed foods. Policies should be developed to support and promote the production and consumption of fresh and minimally processed foods, to support the agricultural sector and for a healthier and more sustainable food system.
Keywords: ultra-processed foods, sustainable food system, food economy; agriculture, farmers revenues.