Food trade database developed through regional network and partnerships for future food system sustainability

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Photo: Dr Tom Brewer, ANCORS, University of Wollongong, lead database developer and curator, presenting the Pacific Data Hub dashboard at Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry in early March 2023.
Photo: Dr Tom Brewer, ANCORS, University of Wollongong, lead database developer and curator, presenting the Pacific Data Hub dashboard at Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry in early March 2023. Credit: SPC

Food is central to a healthy and sustainable future for the Pacific. Understanding the Pacific Food System is integral to making informed decisions around food production, distribution, and consumption. Access to reliable information is essential to making good decisions.

The Pacific Food Trade Database (PFTD) is the output of a regional collaboration that has delivered improved trade data on 555 food and beverage commodities for 18 PICTs, including tonnage of imports and exports from 1995-2018. With this long time-series, country and regional decision makers can review trade trends for specific foods, or groups of foods, to better understand economic and health impacts, and identify what future trade trends are likely to be.

The development of the PFTD has been a true regional collaboration. Researchers and experts from the University of Wollongong and the Pacific Community (SPC) have led the compilation and cleaning of the database with extensive support from commodity and country experts from across the region. It is a regional initiative that will contribute to the future of healthy, equitable, and sustainable Pacific food systems. The initiative was funded by the Australian Government through ACIAR project FIS/2018/155.

Numerous policy-centred outputs are already available on the SPC's Statistics for Development Division Food Systems page. In Q2 2023 the data will be available through .STAT for those interested in the specific numbers. Additionally, an engaging and interactive Dashboard has been developed by SPC which will be live on the Pacific Data Hub. This dashboard is designed for all Pacific people to engage with, and explore, including public and private sectors. The dashboard is an evolving resource that will be updated, including addition of features such as searchability by different groups of unhealthy foods associated with non-communicable disease. As part of the outputs package there will also be a detailed methods paper, made available as an SPC publication.

In partnership with the Pacific Community Food Systems flagship database will be updated with more recent data, and errors corrected with further engagement with member countries and researchers. Please direct any queries to Dr Tom Brewer, Senior Researcher at the University of Wollongong.

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