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Women's consumer power is key ingredient to ensure food for all, says Oxfam

Posted by Georgette Thomas Oxfam Media officer, Oxford, UK

18th Jul 2012

A new report by Oxfam, published today, argues that harnessing the "immense consumer power" of women around the world can help ensure everyone has enough to eat.

Currently, a billion people on the planet go to bed hungry, despite there being enough food to feed everyone. Oxfam is campaigning to ensure 'food for all' and, as its report highlights, believes that the consumer power of women can help solve this problem.

Women make the majority of decisions about the food their families eat and, by a recent estimate, are responsible for $12 trillion or 65% of the world's annual consumer spending.*

As part of its report, Oxfam has published the results of a survey of 5,100 mothers across six countries (Brazil, India, Philippines, Spain, USA and UK) intended to find out how much they know about the impact of their food choices as consumers.

The survey shows that women around the world want to make smarter decisions when buying, preparing and cooking food for their families. Overall, 73% of respondents to Oxfam's survey said they wanted to know how to make a difference through the food they buy, 83% want information on how to use less energy when cooking and 76% would feel comfortable feeding their family a meat free meal once a week.

Responding to these findings, Oxfam's report highlights some simple decisions consumers can make about how they buy, store and prepare food, which would help communities in the poorest parts of the world have enough to eat. These behavioural changes include:

· Considering how to reduce food waste: in the six countries surveyed one in six apples ends up in the bin - 5.3 billion a year; the greenhouse gases from the growth, trade and decomposition of these apples is equivalent to burning 10m barrels of oil.
· Thinking about buying more Fair Trade products: if consumers in Brazil, UK, USA and Spain ensured two of the chocolate bars bought each month were Fair Trade it would add up to more than 12.5 billion a year - this action could help transform the lives of people who live and work on 90,000 small scale cocoa farms across the globe.
· Finding ways to use less fuel when cooking: putting a lid on the pan can cut the amount of energy used in cooking by up to 70 per cent.
· Being aware of how many meals have meat in: meat production generates 18 per cent of global greenhouse emissions and soaks up nearly 8 per cent of the world's water supply. If urban households in the US, UK, Spain and Brazil were to eat a meat free meal once a week for a year, it would be the equivalent to taking 3.7 million cars off the road.

"Together the world's women possess immense consumer power and can really help ensure we live in a world where there is food for all" said Oxfam's Chief Executive, Barbara Stocking.


Notes to Editors:
For a copy of Oxfam's new report The Food Transformation; Harnessing Consumer Power to Create a Fair Food Future please contact: Georgette Thomas on or Mob: +44 (0)7824 503108

Oxfam surveyed 5100 women living in a city, or large town in the USA, UK, Spain, Philippines, India and Brazil. For a copy of the survey results please contact Georgette Thomas as above

*Reference for consumer spending statistic

GROW is Oxfam's global campaign for a world where everyone has enough to eat always

Blog post written by Georgette Thomas

Oxfam Media officer, Oxford, UK

More by Georgette Thomas