Quinoa is an annual plant found growing in the Andean region of South America, very rich in nutrients.
For hundreds of years countries in the Andean regions were the only one to produce quinoa, especially Perù and Bolivia. It was fundamental for those producers because it's one of the only plants that can supply all the essentials life sustaining nutrients at a low price. But thanks to the NASA's studies in 1993 which showed how nutritious Quinoa was, and the recent publishment of Oprah Winfrey's "21-Day Cleanse diet" (2008), this revolutionary plant started it's wide-spread diffusion in European's countries and this completely transformed the Quinoa market.
Market for Quinoa after 2008
After a couple of years from the diffusion of Quinoa, Andean regions were still the only producers, bringing a benefit to the economy as hole: for every 25% increase in the price, households consumption increased by an average of 1.75%. But this brought good news especially to quinoa farmers, in fact their household consumption increased by 46% during these years, while non-producing households' expenditure increased 'only' by 30%.
This sudden increase in price didn't pass unnoticed, and as soon as European farmers found this opportunity to enter this profitable market, they did. But the entrance of these new rivals meant lower market share for Bolivian and Peruvian Quinoa farmers. As a consequence average consumption in Perù fell as Quinoa prices rose, which led to a very high level of undernourishment. Also in other poor countries, such as Malawi and Bangladesh, quinoa represented only 0.5% of households spending.
In 2013 more than 50 countries were producing quinoa, which led to a 227% increase in supply, making prices drastically fall (40% decrease). Price decrease also meant lower wages for quinoa farmers, about 5% less than before the quinoa wide-spread.
Prices in the future are very likely to fall, since both Andean and European producers are accumulating quinoa supplies hoping for its prices to rise, which would bring to a market surplus, making farmers desperately try to sell their stock. In case this happens, it would hurt the poorest farmers, who are the original Andean farmers, since their new competitors have better soil and faster machinery at their disposal.