The current drivers of changes in the Honduran food system are related to production, trade, and consumption. Only half of the drivers are moving in a positive direction, giving this component a fair rating. In production, climate change has accelerated over the past decade (over one degree warmer, more than doubled) with Honduras being more affected than the world (50% higher temperature increase), with implications for production patterns, yields and profitability. Technological innovation in agriculture, as measured by increase in fertilizer use, is growing five times as fast over the past decade as the global average (44 vs 8%), faster than geographical neighbors and countries with similar GDP.
Policy changes related to trade and distribution of food have influenced the development of the sector over the past decade. Trade policy shifts have driven important increases in food exports in Honduras over the past decade (31%), putting Honduras way above (by almost three times) the global average while the policies of comparison groups, including geographic neighbors and countries with similar GDP, have driven food exports in the opposite direction. Policy changes have shifted incentives for FDI as well, such that the proportion of FDI in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (vs other sectors) in Honduras fell from a level twice the global average in 2003, to almost half the global average in 2023, a decrease of 88% in just ten years.
Changes impacting consumers have also been important in shaping the evolution of the Honduran food system in the past decade. The growing urbanization of consumers, while slowing, continues to drive shifts in consumer preferences. The urbanization rate in Honduras slowed from just above to just below world average, slowing 21% over the period while the world average slowed just 10%. Similarly, the decrease in consumer income over the past decade is an important driver. Economic growth in Honduras has been negative, almost double the average world trend and that of neighboring countries, also impacting associated consumer food choices.
While three of the five indicators related to the Honduran food supply system remained unchanged, two, related to food distribution and processing, are moving in a negative direction, earning a rating of fair for this component. The Honduran food system is characterized by low levels of agricultural production, represented by hectares of agricultural land per capita. This has not changed over the past decade in Honduras while values for all comparison groups have decreased by 15-20%. Over the same period, food production in Honduras has grown slowly, at just five percent, much slower than most countries around the world (14%), while countries with similar levels of income have increased food production over the same period by 40%. Much of the food consumed in Honduras is imported (twice the world average for food import dependency) and while most of the world has been decreasing their dependence on food imports (-21%), Honduras has increased its dependency on food imports (+12%), similar to countries with comparable GDP levels (+9%). Levels of food processing (value added per capita) in Honduras are similar to world averages, though 20% below neighboring countries and well above (six times higher) countries with similar GDP. Yet food processing in Honduras is moving in an opposite direction than comparison groups, having decreased by 35% percent over the past ten years while the world average increased by 85% (including Central American countries +74%). Traditional food retail remains dominant in Honduras with much lower levels of food retail modernization in Honduras than elsewhere (Honduras just 20% of world average levels, 65% of Central America levels).
The food environment in Honduras falls in the category of good, with four out of five indicators unchanged (availability, convenience, safety, and promotion of healthy diets), one improved (waste) and one that deteriorated (affordability) over the past decade. While food availability in Honduras is sufficient to meet demand, the surplus is small, though growing. Values and trends for Honduras are similar to comparison groups except for countries with similar income levels who increased availability three times faster than Honduras over the past decade. Food has remained affordable over time, increasing by just 35%, in line with Central American countries, while the global average shows an increase above 80%. Consumption of convenience (packaged) foods is low, at under 30% of the global average. Consumption of convenience foods has remained unchanged over the past decade except for GDP-similar countries who have increased by 7%. Most of Honduras offers adequate sanitation for basic food safety measures, above global averages. Messaging in support of healthy diets is weak in Honduras with no official dietary guidelines, which has not changed over the past decade, while on a global scale we have gone from 30 to 40% of countries with formal public healthy diets messaging. Food waste in Honduras is well below averages for all comparison groups and is decreasing (a positive trend) while all other groups show an increase.
Consumer behavior in Honduras vis a vis a healthy food system is also good, with one indicator improving, three remaining unchanged and one deteriorating. Honduran consumers are young (median age 24) and urban (58%) with at least half of women engaged in work outside the home. Honduran consumers are getting older faster than comparison groups (17% over the past decade), more than twice as fast as the global average. Female labor force participation has increased in Honduras by almost 8% over the past decade (while comparison groups have remained unchanged), largely in urban areas, shifting the roles women play in households vis a vis food provisioning, planning, and preparing. Despite this trend, Hondurans consume much less processed foods than their peers around the globe (56% less) and in Central America (48% less), while consuming almost 2.5 times as much as consumers in GDP-similar countries. Honduran diets are on average as healthy as the rest of the world, as measured by how much of their energy supply comes from low quality carbohydrates, and quite a bit healthier than countries with similar income levels.
The performance of the Honduran food system in terms of outcomes is fair. The impact on the environment is worsening, while social outcomes show improvements. Health and economic outcomes are mixed, with improvements in some areas and worsening outcomes in others.
Environment: Outcomes of the Honduran food system in terms of the environment are increasingly negative in terms of degradation of the atmosphere and land. The Honduran food system contributes less to the causes of climate change in terms of emissions than other countries, and their contributions are increasing. Emissions are similar to neighboring countries, while quite a bit lower than countries with similar GDP. While a sizable proportion of Honduras’ land has tree cover (almost double world average), agricultural production and thus the food system are increasingly putting pressure on land through deforestation. Tree cover has decreased by 10 percent over the past decade, double the global average.
Health: Honduras’ food system performs below world average in terms of its contributions to both food and nutrition security and consumer health, yet outcomes for nutrition security have improved while outcomes for health have deteriorated over the past decade. Over 20% of the adult population in Honduras have diet related health issues and almost 15% do not get enough to eat. In terms of nutrient deficiency, Honduras has much higher levels than any of the comparison groups, 40% higher than world average and GDP-similar countries, 32% higher than neighboring countries, though the country is improving twice as fast as the world average. While obesity in Honduras is just 8% higher than the world average, it is increasing faster (33 vs 24%).
Economic: Economic outcomes have improved in terms of financial performance while the economic contribution of the sector has declined vis a vis other sectors. Currently, the food system’s contribution to the national economy (% value added in manufacturing) is much higher in Honduras (>200%) than the global average. Yet while geographic neighbors and the world average have been increasing in terms of contribution of the sector to value added, Honduras has decreased just over a third in the past decade. The financial performance of the Honduran food system, as measured by value added per worker, is poor, with exceptionally low levels of worker productivity. While this is similar to countries with comparable levels of income, neighboring countries are almost double, and the world average is almost sixteen times higher. While financial performance improved by 37% over the past decade in Honduras, the world average increased by almost four times that amount. Geographic neighbors, however, decreased by 10%.
Social: While the performance of the Honduran food system in terms of social outcomes is poor, it is improving in terms of both gender equity and income equality. Honduras has much higher levels of income inequality than most of the world (34% higher) though inequality has fallen over the past decade, faster than the global average and faster than neighboring countries and GDP-similar countries. The Honduran food system performs poorly in terms of gender equality, with women being twice as likely to be negatively impacted than men by obesity. This is a bit lower than the global average and has improved slightly over the past decade.