Globalisation is producing major changes to all components of the food system in the Mediterranean region. It has also led to the abandonment of some crops, livestock farming techniques and traditional crafts; it has imposed new networks and marketing systems and modified eating habits, so that there is a global tendency towards uniformity of diet.
The major factor contributing to this process of conformity is the growth of the middle class in emerging nations, and this will be increasingly the case in the future.
Per capita income has steadily increased in developing countries over the last few years, and has slowed, without really stopping, only during the present long recession. The most striking examples are China and India: the annual growth rates of these two Asian giants were high in the years before the crisis and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects them to remain high for the next twenty years.
As populations become richer, starch-based products (like rice and meals) and unprocessed foods are replaced with high-protein foods (like meat, milk and their derivatives) and with processed and functional food. This favours a process in which diets tend to become more uniform the world over.
Rising prices and price fluctuations have a strong impact on the poorest social groups and on food-importing countries, for example in North Africa where diets are less diversified. This is also modifying the dietary patterns of low-income consumers, who tend to shift their food preferences towards cheaper foods which are often also low quality foods.