Worldwide Review of Food Price Elasticities


Laura Cornelsen, Rosie Green, Alan Dangour, Bhavani Shankar, Richard Smith




Own-price elasticities describe the relationship between the price of a food and demand for the same food among consumers. Generally, as foods become more expensive the demand for them falls, but the strength of this relationship depends on a number of factors.

Project details

This study is the first worldwide review of food price elasticities, and comprises a systematic review and meta-analysis of the price elasticities associated with the major food groups.

The analysis also includes an assessment of how the relationships vary between countries and households of different income levels.

136 studies reporting a total of 3495 estimates were included in the review, and the results showed that the highest price elasticities came from lower income countries and lower income households within each country.

The relationship between price and demand was strongest for animal source foods (meat, fish and dairy) and weaker for cereals and fats. These findings will help to inform future food policy in terms of ‘fat taxes’ etc., as well as indicating potential future dietary and health implications of increasing food prices (particularly in low income countries). 


Mario Mazzocchi (University of Bologna)


Green R, Cornelsen L, Dangour A,  Smith R. Why fat taxes won't make us thin. Journal of Public Health 2014, doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdu032
Green R, Cornelsen L, Dangour A, Turner R, Shankar B, Mazzocchi M, Smith R. The effect of rising food prices on food consumption: systematic review with meta-regression. BMJ 2013, 346:f3703
Green R, Cornelsen L, Dangour A, Smith R. Is a tax on sugary drinks too bitter to swallow? BMJ 2013; 347:f7039