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Consumption Statistics

Volume 437: debated on Monday 12 May 1947

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asked the Minister of Food the value in calories of the food energy per capita per day of all nutrients available for civilian consumption in the United Kingdom during 1946, and itemise the per capita supplies of the following foodstuffs moving into civilian consumption in 1946 as compared with the average per capita supplies for 1934–38; milk, milk products, excluding cheese and butter, poultry and game, eggs, shell, dried and liquid, in fresh egg equivalent weight, flour and grain products, all vegetables, tea, cocoa and coffee, fats and oils, excluding butter, tomatoes and fruits of all sorts including nuts and pulses, sugar and potatoes.

The answer is contained in the statistics given below. They show that the number of calories available to civilian consumers per head per day in 1946 was 2,890, not, as has been erroneously stated, 2,100. The consumption of some individual foods in 1946 expressed as a percentage of their prewar consumption was as follows: Liquid milk, 144; eggs, shell, dried and liquid, 87; flour and grain products, 115; all vegetables, 110: tea, 96; oils and fats excluding butter, 105; butter, 44; bacon, 55; all other meats, 93; fish, 120; sugar, 72; potatoes, 161.

TABLE 1—Estimated average supplies moving into civilian consumption in the United Kingdom in 1946
Nutrients per head per day
Protein—animal44·1 gm
—vegetable46·0 gm
—total90·1 gm
Fat112·0 gm
Carbohydrate381·1 gm
Calcium1,043 mgm.
Iron17·2 mgm.
Vitamin A3,738 I.U.
Ascorbic acid107.5 mgm.
Thiamin1·88 mgm.
Riboflavin2·00 mgm.
Niacin17·3 mgm.
TABLE.—Estimated average supplies of certain foods moving into civilian consumption in the United Kingdom in 1946 compared with the corresponding averages for 1934–1938.
Lb. per head per year.1946 as percentage of 1934–1938
Milk, liquid216·9313·1144
Milk, condensed (product weight)12·36·754
Milk, dried (product weight)1 62·2138
Total milk liquid, condensed and dried (as milk solids)32·042·9134
Poultry and game (including rabbits) (edible weight)6·13·354
Eggs, shell, dried and liquid (fresh egg equivalent)24·521·287
Flour and Grain Products209?8240·8115
All vegetables107·4118·6110
Cocoa (raw beans)4·75·6119
All other meats93
Coffee (raw beans).0·71·5214
Oils and fats excluding butter (fat content)24·625·8105
Tomatoes and all fruits (fresh equivalent)141·5102·172
Pulses and nuts (product weight)9·66·971
Sugar including sugar in all home-produced manufactured foods.103·9 74·672

The nutrient intake for 1946, compared with prewar, shows about 4 per cent. less calories;12½ per cent more total protein, but 3 per cent. less animal protein; 14 per cent. less fat; and about the same carbohydrate. This not very dissimilar quantity of food was in 1946 far more equitably distributed amongst the population than it used to be before the war. But this does not mean that the position is satisfactory The quantity and quality of food wh ch could be bought by large sections of our people before the war were far too low. We shall need to raise them substantially and as soon as possible in order to achieve a really satisfactory national diet.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will issue a table showing the present increase or decrease of the weekly average consumption of each of the principal items of foods compared with the figures for 1914–20 and 1938.

, pursuant to her reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1947, Vol. 437, c. 2], supplied the following information:

Wheat and diluents as flour4·284·234·80
Tapioca, etc0·080·070·07
Maize meal0·050·040·07
Beef and veal including unenumerated1·181·190·89
Mutton and ham0·560·500·28
Bacon and ham0·340·340·46
Meat offals0·060·050·03
Poultry, Eggs, etc
Poultry and game0·050·040·04
Other fish (fresh)0·600·530·25
Shell fish0·010·010·01
Canned and Salted fish0·030·060·07
Dairy Produce and Fats
Milk (fresh)4·284·323·15
Condensed milk (unsweetened)0·010·010·04
Condensed milk (sweetened)0·070·070·12
Lard including imitation lard0·110·110·15
Sugar, Tea, etc
It should be noted that the exact basis of these figures is unknown. For this reason and also because of changes in food habits between then and 1938 no comparisons could logically be made between these figures and those for 1938.

Figures for the years 1919 and 1920 and averages for 1914–20 are not available. In any event the averages for 1914–20 would be misleading as the food shortage in the 1914–18 war did not become acute until 1917. The following are averages for certain commodities for the years 1909–13 and corresponding figures for the years 1914 and 1918.

For the position before the second world war the year 1938 is not regarded as representative; a much better base is the average for 1934–38. Quoted below are the averages for certain foods in this period compared with the corresponding figures for the year 1946–47.


1934–1938 AND 1946–1947.

1934–1938 average.Year to June, 1947.Increase or decrease in June as per cent. of 1938–1938 average.
Flour3·744·21+ 12
Oatmeal0·100·16+ 58
Carcase meat and offal (carcase weight)1·911·55- 19
Total meat including canned (carcase weight) 2·012·04+ 2
Bacon and ham0·520·25- 52
Fish fresh, frozen and cured0·420·54+ 28
Shell eggs0·420·23- 44
Total eggs (fresh egg equivalent)0·470·40- 15
Liquid milk4·176·02+ 44
Total milk liquid condensed and dried (as milk solids)0·630·84+ 34
Cheese0·170·18+ 4
Butter0·480·21- 56
Margarine0·170·29+ 71
Lard and compound lard0·180·14- 23
Total fats (fat content)0·870·64- 26
Potatoes3·385·54+ 64
Sugar including sugar in all home produced Manufactured food2·001·54- 23
Tea0·180·17- 4
Coffee0·010·03+ 122
Cocoa0·090·11+ 22