World food prices hit record high

By Reuters
Posted Feb. 3 at 6:11 a.m.

The U.N.’s food price index hit a record in January and recent catastrophic weather around the globe could put more pressure on the cost of food, an issue that has already helped spark protests across the Middle East.

Up for the seventh month in a row, the closely watched Food and Agriculture Oganisation Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest since records began in 1990, and topped the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08.

“The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come,” FAO economist and grains expert Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement.

Surging food prices have come back into the spotlight after they helped fuel the discontent that toppled Tunisia’s president in January and have spilled over to Egypt and Jordan, raising expectations other countries in the region would secure grain stocks to reassure their populations.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged global leaders to “put food first” and wake up to the need to curb increased price volatility.

“We are going to be facing a broader trend of increasing commodity prices, including food commodity prices,” he told Reuters in an interview.


A series of weather events hitting key crops is likely to keep up the pressure on food prices as a massive cyclone batters Australia, a major winter storm ravages U.S. crop belts and flooding hits key commodity producer Malaysia.

Drought in the Black Sea last year, heavy rains in Australia and dry weather in Argentina and anticipation of a spike in demand after unrest in north Africa and the Middle East has already pushed the price of wheat to its highest in 2-1/2 years.

The FAO’s Abbassian pinpointed crop conditions.

“It is the supply situation. It is not the time when we get additional supplies from anywhere,” he told Reuters.

“Supply is not going to look any better than it is now until we know what is happening (with crops in major producing countries) later on in the year,” he said.

A mix of high oil and fuel prices, growing use of biofuels, bad weather and soaring futures markets pushed up prices of food in 2007/08, sparking violent protests in countries including Egypt, Cameroon and Haiti.

“I find it interesting that we’ve had two years of good production and we’ve been unable to build a big enough buffer in stocks to cause this sharp rise in food prices again,” said Wayne Gordon, a grains analyst for Rabobank in Sydney.

“The broadbased nature of what crops have been wiped out over the past year means that it’s going to take a while to actually rebuild and get production back in line with consumption,” said National Australia Bank agribusiness economist Michael Creed.

Read more about the topics in this post: , ,


  1. Steve999 Feb. 3 at 1:17 pm

    By all means… Lets turn more corn into gas!!! How stupid can we be? More ethanol please!!! Chicago with highest gas prices in the nation. Think part of it is due to “blended” gas??? Um… YEA!!!

  2. eric Feb. 3 at 5:45 pm

    I just bought a ($2,299.00 17-inch) MacBook Pro for only $229.62. Think thats a deal? Well let me tell you, my neighbor’s are waiting on a stunning 65″ 3D LED TV, they paid $431.47 and its arriving tomorrow. It feels terrific not paying high street prices While everyone else has to. Now I’m makeing a fortune selling stuff like iPods on to my co-workers, I use two sites, both are good