Between 2006 and 2008, the world witnessed an unprecedented rise in food prices. This was triggered by a combination of, inter alia, sustained increases in global demand for food, biofuels and adverse weather conditions. Within these three years, the FAO food price index rose by 63 percent (FAO, 2012). The rise in food prices sparked riots in countries like Mozambique, Haiti, Kenya and Somalia (Camillo, 2010).
Zambia faced a similar price shock. Refined maize flour (locally known as breakfast mealiemeal) prices increased by 46.3 per cent between 2006 and 20101 while the price of less refined maize flour (locally known as rollermeal) increased by 40.6 per cent. Dramatic increases were observed in commodities such as kapenta2 and rice, which doubled in price during the same time period.
A pertinent question to ask after an experience of a covariate food price shock is, what happens to the welfare of households? Answering this question requires consideration of complex processes as multiple factors, which make households vulnerable and resilient to shocks have to be taken into account. This paper examines a narrow aspect of welfare effects, household consumption patterns. It does this by analysing the change in the share of the household budget allocated to food between 2006 and 2010 and estimating the changes in district level food price indexes, using the fisher index, over the same period.