Does a better diet reduce dependence on imports? The case of Tunisia
- Agricultural Economics
- In the last 40 years, Tunisia has experienced—as many other developing and emerging countries—a dietary transition, which led to an increase in the consumption of sugar, fats, and animal products. This transition was accompanied by an increase in noncommunicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases. Using mathematical programming, we optimized the Tunisian diet using the French dietary recommendations as constraints. Then, we used the Global Trade Analysis Project's constant elasticities of substitution in order to simulate the impact of fulfilling the nutrient recommendations on international trade and domestic supply. Using this approach, we showed that the Tunisian diet is rich in carbohydrates and sugar but lacks fibers, some minerals, and vitamins. The adherence to all recommendations would induce an imperative shift to less sugar and cereal‐based products by reducing the import dependence on these products, but would result a dramatic increase in the domestic supply of products from animal origin, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.