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Graphic shows change in global food prices over past 12 months.


Global food prices surge

By Duncan Mil

August 20, 2021 - According to data compiled by the United Nations, global food prices in July were up 31% from the same month last year, driven by a surge in the international prices of vegetable oils and sugar.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food Price Index fell from June but was still 30.99 per cent higher than its level in the same period last year. Over the past 12 months, the FOA’s basket of commodities saw vegetable oils rise 66.7 per cent, followed by sugar at 44.2 per cent. Cereals rose 29.5 per cent, meat 19.6 per cent and dairy products by 14.4 per cent.

Although there is no global shortage of these commodities, many are in the wrong place, being stored on container ships and in ports after the pandemic disrupted the maritime industry.

The cost of moving grain between major markets has more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels. Before the pandemic, the cost of bringing a standard 26.3-tonne container from China to Europe cost US$2,500 to $2,800. Now it costs as much as $16,000. The simultaneous rise in food and freight costs is a “double whammy” for food import-dependent nations.

Conflict, climate change, and the coronavirus have caused the number of people facing chronic hunger to increase by as much as 161 million in the past year. As many as 2.37 billion people -- one in every three on the planet -- did not have access to adequate food in 2020.

“Today, 41 million people are literally knocking on famine’s door. The price tag to reach them is about $6 billion. We need funding and we need it now,” warned United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley. This number is up from 27 million in 2019, Beasley added.

PUBLISHED: 20/08/2021; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images