From Hunger to Food Security: A Conceptual History

19 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2014 Last revised: 27 Oct 2016

Date Written: July 7, 2014


Hunger afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the world. However, the very concept of hunger is difficult to define, and in fact the whole issue of hunger has been subsumed under the more comprehensive concept of food security.

This paper retraces the history of this concept, from its original appearance in international usage at the 1974 World Food Conference, to more modern versions like the definition adopted in the First and subsequent World Food Summits. Originally framed in terms of sufficient world supply of food, the concept of food security initially morphed into the aim of national self-sufficiency in the production of food, but later evolved into its current meaning centred on access to food by individuals and households. Under its more recent incarna­tion, and quite unlike its former meaning, it is recognised that international food trade is a key element for achieving food security. This and other conceptual transformations are revised through this paper.

Keywords: food security, food insecurity, hunger, food, poverty, vulnerability, agriculture

JEL Classification: I3, O13, O15, Q18, F1

Suggested Citation

Maletta, Hector E., From Hunger to Food Security: A Conceptual History (July 7, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Hector E. Maletta (Contact Author)

Universidad del Pacífico ( email )

Av Salaverry 2020
Lima, 11

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