50 – The Rise of the Middle Class

13 April, 2021

by Professor Ross Kingwell – AEGIC Chief Economist.

Key message: A huge spatial change in the global distribution of middle class incomes is underway. By 2030 five countries will be the source of over half of the world’s middle class. Four of those countries are geographically close to Australia; and its grain producers.

The Story:

The global population is set to increase to 9 billion by 2050, so global food production will need to increase to satisfy this greater global demand for food. In addition, on average, people across the world are getting richer. As people become wealthier, their per capita expenditure on food increases (Figure 1).

Often more calories are consumed. People eat more dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and where culture and religion permit, more meat (e.g. – pork, chicken, beef) is consumed. Often dairy and meat production becomes increasingly based on feed grains.

Figure 1: Per capita expenditure on food versus the percentage of consumption spent on food in various countries (Note: the size of each bubble is that country’s population and a ‘goodness-of-fit’ equation (dotted line) is fitted to the data.)

But where are the wealthier people of the future likely to be located? Table 1 gives the answer. It shows the regional spread of the middle class in 2020 and 2030. By 2030, five countries (India, China, USA, Indonesia and Japan) will contain 56% of the world’s middle class; and four of those countries are geographically near Australia. China and Indonesia will double their middle class consumption expenditure between 2020 and 2030. India, by contrast, is expected to experience even higher growth, trebling its middle class consumption expenditure by 2030.

Table 1: Top 10 countries ranked by their middle class consumption expenditure in 2030

Larger, richer populations will place increased demands on agricultural and trade systems to deliver the required volumes and qualities of food products. Already China imports massive volumes of feed grains and Indonesia is currently the world’s second largest importer of wheat. India’s ability to be self-sufficient in agricultural products may be challenged in coming decades as its population grows in size and wealth, and climate change impacts unfold to weaken the reliability of its agricultural production.

Growing populations and wealth signal important potential upsides for grain trade. As personal wealth increases, people spend more on food; and diets often become more dependent on feed grains. Plus among the middle class, the quality, safety and health properties of food grains consumed become more important.

Australia is fortunate as the rise of the middle class is on its doorstep. Economic prosperity that comes with the rise of the middle class will favour Australia’s grain industry as a source of quality-assured, safe grain preferred by middle class consumers.

More News

05 May, 2021

The world of noodles

Australian wheat is highly valued for noodles across Asia. The Asian noodle market represents over one-third of Australia’s wheat exports! Why Australian wheat? Flour millers across Asia prefer to buy Australian wheat for noodles. The combination of excellent noodle texture and colour attributes is unique to Australian wheat. White Australian wheat results in high milling yield […]

28 April, 2021


This post is current as of April/May 2021.  AEGIC is Australia’s leading organisation for market insight, innovation and applied solutions for the grains industry. We leverage our technical know-how, market insight and innovation capabilities to find and deliver practical solutions that create value for the Australian grains industry. We are currently building our technical capacity […]

27 April, 2021

AEGIC behind the scenes: Australian wheat for Asian bread

Asian diets are changing amid strong economic growth and increasing wealth. More and more consumers are recognising the benefits and convenience of baked products. Australia is well-placed to play a positive role in this change by understanding industry requirements. AEGIC’s bread research lab helps assess Australian wheat for Asian baking to get more of it into […]

21 April, 2021

AEGIC behind the scenes: Australian wheat for Asian noodles

The Japanese udon noodle market is Australia’s most stable premium wheat market. Japanese noodle lovers know what they like when they’re tucking into a delicious bowl of udon or ramen noodles. AEGIC runs a highly-trained udon noodle sensory evaluation program with the Japanese Flour Millers Association (JFMA) to ensure new Australian wheat varieties meet Japan’s strict requirements. […]

15 April, 2021

Enhancing noodle texture and colour

Asian flour millers prefer to buy Australian wheat for noodles because of its bright, stable colour and good texture. Thanks to a landmark AEGIC research project*, we know that noodle colour, colour stability, and texture are among the most important factors that flour millers look for when buying wheat for noodles. The research found that […]

13 April, 2021

50 – The Rise of the Middle Class

02 March, 2021

Whole grain for better health

Increasing whole grain consumption represents a major opportunity and challenge for the food industry. Extensive evidence now shows the connection between whole grain consumption and reduced risk of several chronic diet-related diseases. Greater intake of whole grains in the diet leads to reduced incidence of cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, and diabetes. To address this […]

26 February, 2021

AGIC Asia 2021 to reach Asian feed and whole grain buyers

The Australian Grain Industry Conference 2021 will feature a special session led by AEGIC on the benefits of Australian grains for animal feed, and the health benefits of whole grains for human consumption. AGIC Asia, which will be held virtually this year on Wednesday 3 March 2021, is a key date on the grain industry […]

05 February, 2021

Stimulating Australian feed grain demand in the Philippines and Thailand

Feed grain buyers in the Philippines and Thailand learned the compelling benefits of using Australian feed grains for swine following two well-attended AEGIC webinars this week. The webinars, presented in conjunction with Austrade, featured experienced Australian feed nutrition expert Tony Edwards as keynote speaker. The Philippines event attracted 150 representatives of the grain and animal […]