Food aid is a key component of a humanitarian response but its use in other programming contexts is subject to numerous criticisms. Even in humanitarian emergencies food aid is often late, unreliable and out of proportion to other elements of the response. Three major factors will shape the future of food aid. First, mechanisms of food aid governance are being reviewed and may undergo major changes—particularly the Food Aid Convention now that hopes have diminished for an Agreement on Agriculture at the World Trade Organisation. The second significant factor is donor agency trends. Overall levels of food aid have dropped fairly steadily in recent decades and there are several discernible trends in resource allocation, procurement and the use of food aid. The third factor is an emerging body of best practice that will define acceptable standards of food aid programming in the future.