Looking at what the world eats using world maps

I had hoped to share maps exploring fun topics related to what people eat around the world, but that was tougher than I had expected. It turns out there’s not much serious research around important questions like favourite desserts around the word, favourite snacks, or chocolate consumption. That data seems to have been gathered by the fast food companies and marketers, and it didn’t seem too consistent or meaningful. I didn’t really want a map of how many McDonald’s there are in each country or one showing Mars Bars as the favourite chocolate bar almost everywhere – sorry, don’t believe that! So we’re going to take a more serious look at food consumption around the world than I had initially intended. I’ll try for some lighter map offerings next week, while I’m eating some of my favourite snacks and chocolate!

How secure is your food supply?


Food security is a measure of how secure adequate sources of food are in a given region. Similar to last week’s look at supply and demand for fresh water, some countries produce more of one or more foods than they need, so they can export the excess – while other countries produce less food than they need and so have to rely on being able to import from other countries.




What do people like to drink?

Image credit: Washington Post

Image credit: Washington Post

Image credit: Washington Post

Image credit: Chartsbin.com


What meats and fish do people like to eat?

Image credit: Reddit.com

Global pork consumption.  Image credit: Reddit.com

Most consumed meat/fish by country. Image credit: Reddit.com from MapPorn

Note: Demersal Fish are ocean bottom feeders like sole and flounder. Pelagic Fish are mid-depth ocean fish, which includes everything from sardines and anchovies to swordfish and tuna.


What grains do people eat?

World consumption of staples/grains. Image credit: Wikipedia.org


How much sugar do people eat?


How much salt do people take in?

I bet none of you expected that North Americans would not have the highest intake of salt. I know I didn’t!


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27 Responses to Looking at what the world eats using world maps

  1. Amazing read, I wrote about 3 articles about food security on my blog http://www.nokview.WordPress.com

  2. What a fascinating and informative post!

  3. Fascinating, Jane. In particular, the alcohol and tea/coffee ones. I had no idea Australia were such huge alcohol consumers. Your question about food safety always takes me back to the post-9/11 security era, when alarmists talked about terrorists getting to the food supply. It’s never happened, to my knowledge anyway, but I’ve never forgotten those initial concerns. It’s funny what we retain. – Marty

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I’d forgotten about those early concerns about what terrorists might attempt. Now we know that most of them stick with the well-tested approach of blowing things up! But our reliance on a few monopolies involved in industrial-grade agriculture could be our undoing in food security if things went awry. Something like 1% of our population is now involved in farming in the US and Canada, I think.

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Seems like China is the outlier in most every chart, and they seem to drink only alcohol 🙂

  5. Fascinating, Jane. So Canadians drink a lot of alcohol and coffee and eat a lot of poultry. Do I have that right?

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. So it seems. Don’t forget the fruit juice, and some tea! I must admit to being surprised that chicken seems to reign supreme in so many countries. I figure all those chicken wings and chicken fingers must play a role!

  6. You provide us with so much information, that I think you could get a job as a professor.

  7. Dr B says:

    I initially turned to Nepal, Dr Cs original country, when I saw your charts. Two things stood out. First low alcohol consumption which cannot be correct. Many homes even in remote villages make their own hooch, Ela or Ayla. Second, nobody in Nepal eats beef, a Hindu/Buddhist country, but they do eat Buffalo, though I would intuitively predict that poultry was top of their consumption.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Interesting. I wondered about similar seeming contradictions for several places, but decided to go ahead with the maps I did because their sources were reliable. However, I wish we had clarity around how they arrived at their results. I can imagine that an org like the FAO can’t include measures of homemade hooch. I’m not sure about the other, although I do know that in Bhutan you can find beef, as long as it’s not killed by a Buddhist!

      • Dr B says:

        That’s OK, it’s always about the veracity of the data and those really stood out for me. I guess a lot of data like this is provided by governments and in Nepal there will be no solid data about alcohol. Also, buffalo is commonly referred to as Buff so easy to get lost in translation I suppose.

  8. Jill davies says:

    Morning Jane and thanks, again. These maps always cause me to bring up various continental maps and review my geography. A nice refresher.

    Starting with Food Security, which Wayne and I did over coffee, we had a couple of observations. I could nor believe Niger, Mali, Bukina Faso have any form of security, let alone food so wondered how this had been calculated. And then from Wayne, the fact that Canada exports lots of wheat, canola and fish doesn’t mean we are food secure as we import lots of other foods especially in winter like fruit and veggies.

    We’re not expecting you to defend the data but are curious.

    Thanks for helping to keep our minds engaged. Stay well, our friend.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I love that you two are poring over these maps over breakfast, Jill! First of all, there are results showing in most of the maps I find that I struggle with. I try to only use them if they’re from a reputable source, but what their criteria’s been for gathering their data is not always clear. And, when it’s averaged for a country the result can be misleading. For example, the food security in Canada’s far north is extremely poor. Re Mali and its neighbours, this map is from 2017, and although things had deteriorated badly, I can only surmise that their local food production capability had not been devastated at that time. Re Canada’s overall food security, I don’t know what criteria they used, but we COULD get along with our own stored and frozen fruits and veg if we had to! I think the notion that we’re a net exporter is correct. Also, if our supermarkets were pushed more forcefully to buy local, we could restore our regional food security!

  9. barryh says:

    Fascinating charts again, Jane. Least surprising is that on sugar consumption. Whenever I go to US, many foods such as bread and chocolate, seem far too sweet. Corporate interests seem to have turned the average US taste to be very unhealthy. And it shows in the number of really obese people.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Barry. I agree, I think there’s got to be a significant degree of additional sugar (and fat, and I had thought salt) added to products to make consumers come back for (too much) more while also making otherwise fine food unhealthy. Why isn’t there more of a backlash? Maybe because it’s also cheaper?? It’ll all show up in the health costs.

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