Why did the industrial diet triumph? The massification of dairy consumption in Spain, 1965–90

Published Online:
09 May 2018
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The rise of a mass, agri‐industrial diet after the Second World War was crucial for the culmination of the nutritional transition that western countries had been involved in since the second half of the nineteenth century—but why did the industrial diet triumph? This article takes the massification of dairy consumption in Spain 1965–90 as a study case. Using a newly constructed database and qualitative material within an evolutionary socio‐economic framework, the article reaches two conclusions. First, the massification of dairy consumption was linked to most households’ transition to a softer budget constraint, which was driven mainly by increasing household incomes (and only secondarily by consumer price reductions caused by food industrialization). Second, the reason why the softening of the budget constraint played such a major role was that it was joined by a substantial increase in consumer trust in dairy products, which in turn resulted from industrial standardization. The article is in line with recent work that underlines the dietary change brought about by food industrialization, but questions whether the latter's major contribution was of a quantitative, price‐related nature and suggests that more attention should be paid to the qualitative, preferences‐related dimension.

© Economic History Society 2018

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