Global food prices hit record highs
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced on Friday that world food prices reached their “highest levels ever” in March, due to the war in Ukraine.
A situation which is explained by the sharp increases in the prices of wheat and all coarse grains, mainly due to the war in Ukrainee”, according to the UN institution.
“Spiking costs are prompting some countries to suspend imports, seek new suppliers or dip into local stocks, although this is not a long-term solution”said Erin Collier, an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“It’s basically kind of a deterrent request. It can only last for a while. Wheat is a staple food,” she added.
The FAO’s World Price Indicator has jumped around 75% since mid-2020, eclipsing levels seen in 2008 and 2011 that contributed to global food crises. Last month’s surge allowed prices to complete a seventh consecutive quarterly gain, the longest such gain since 2008.
The FAO has raised its outlook for world grain stocks. Indeed, Ukraine’s exports will be particularly affected by the war, with wheat shipments down 5 million tonnes and maize shipments down 12.5 million tonnes from a previous estimate. Freight and financing issues are also hurting Russian sales.
The problems will also drag into the next season. Ukraine sowed its wheat months before war broke out, and the FAO expects at least 20% will not be collected due to destruction, limited access to fields or lack of resources for crops. Russian production could be affected by the difficulties in importing agricultural inputs.
The strongest price increases in March were in vegetable oils: the vegetable oil price index rose 23.2%, driven by rising sunflower oil prices. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil.
This trend has raised fears of a hunger crisis in the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, where some effects are already being felt, AFP said.
Indeed, in Morocco, the prices of fruits and vegetables, meats and other products in high demand during the month of fasting have increased and sometimes sharply, such as tomatoes for example.
This reality threatens to crush the budgets of households and even of some governments. In one year, the price of a can of oil has practically doubled, flour is in short supply, the same goes for legumes, vegetables, poultry, eggs, milk, etc.
In addition to the food supply risks associated with the war in Ukraine, farmers around the world continue to face severe weather events and the impact of climate change. For example, the worst drought in decades is killing millions of livestock in the Horn of Africa, while global warming is worsening food insecurity in places like Afghanistan.