Dumping of food

Other Names:
Dumping of agricultural products
Dumping food products as waste

After the Second World War, U.S. farmers, using price supports left over from the New Deal, produced vast wheat surpluses, which the USA exported at concessionary prices to Europe and then the Third World. These enormous transfers of cereals to the South, institutionalized during the 1950s and 1960s by U.S. food aid, continued during the 1970s and 1980s, as the United States and the European Community vied for markets, each outdoing the other in subsidizing agricultural exports. Grain imports from the United States "created food dependence within two decades in countries which had been mostly self-sufficient in food at the end of World War II. Tropical countries soon matched the grain gluts of the North with their own surpluses of cocoa, coffee, tea, bananas, and other export commodities. Accordingly, prices for these commodities collapsed as early as 1970, catching developing nations in a scissors. One blade was food import dependency. The other blade was declining revenues for traditional exports of tropical crops.

The practice of grain dumping continues. For example, imports of heavily subsidized cereals from the USA and EU have been increasing in the Sahel by around 10 percent a year for more than a decade. The effect has been to drive down prices, to undermine investment in agriculture, to deprive rural people of their livelihoods and to create conditions for food dependency.

Millions of people in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso depend on extensive livestock production for their livelihoods. Traditionally they sold their animals to the wealthier coastal countries like Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. Since the mid 1980s, large quantities of subsidized European beef have been arriving in the region. This beef is up to two thirds cheaper than locally produced beef and thus destroy the market for African farmers. Regional trade in cattle is estimated to have dropped by at least 30 percent during the 1980s. The aid policies of the EU and its member states are also undermined, since each year they spend considerable sums on aid to West African livestock production.

Hundreds of cases of poisonings prompted Russia, in 1994, to issue an attack on Western countries dumping sub-standard and dangerous food.


The Third World's local food production efforts are being undermined by the reckless and indiscriminate dumping of subsidized European and North American farm products on developing countries. Food shortages in Africa, underline experts at the World Food Conference in April 1988, cannot be solved by shipping subsidized food surpluses to Africa. While these practices may alleviate shortages in the short term generally they are disastrous in the long term. Dumping also forces down world food prices making it more difficult for farmers in developing countries.

Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
01.10.2016 – 05:28 CEST