USDA: Lower Income Countries Spend More on Food

Consumers in low-income countries spend a greater proportion of their budgets on food than those in higher-income countries, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service.

As incomes rise with economic development and urbanization, the share of income spent on food tends to fall, while discretionary spending on household goods, education, medical services, and recreation tends to increase. In low-income African and South Asian countries, spending on food accounted for more than 40 percent of total consumer expenditures in 2022. This contrasts with higher-income economies in Latin America, including Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico, where an average of about 22.5 percent of budgets was spent on food.

In emerging markets such as Brazil, India, and China, where incomes are rising, the share of discretionary income spent on nonfood categories has increased. In higher-income economies, including the United States, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada, disposable incomes remain larger, and the food share of consumer expenditures is smaller than those in countries where urban communities are still expanding.