Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday that global food prices reached an all-time high in February. This is 24.1 per cent over the level a year earlier and 3.1 points higher than in February 2011, says the United Nations agency.
“Concerns overcrop conditions and adequate export availabilities explain only a part of the current global food price increases. A much bigger push for food price inflation comes from outside food production, particularly the energy, fertilizer and feed sectors,” said FAO economist Upali Galketi Aratchilage, adding, “All these factors tend to squeeze profit margins of food producers, discouraging them from investing and expanding production.”
As the Food Price Index measures average prices over the month, the February evaluation only moderately integrates market effects stemming from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Relatedly, the head of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has highlighted how the crisis in Ukraine could impact global food security.
IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo said the continuation of the conflict, which is already a tragedy for those directly involved, will be catastrophic for the entire world, particularly for people already struggling to feed their families.
He warned that the conflict could limit the world’s supply of staple crops such as wheat, corn and sunflower oil, resulting in skyrocketing food prices and hunger. This could endanger global food security and intensify geopolitical tensions.
“This area of the Black Sea plays a major role in the global food system, exporting at least 12 percent of the food calories traded in the world,” said Houngbo.
“Forty percent of wheat and corn exports from Ukraine go to the Middle East and Africa, which are already grappling with hunger issues, and where further food shortages or price increases could stoke social unrest.”