According to data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO), published Tuesday, global food prices have barely budged since April but the big picture remains bleak: the global price for a basket of basic foods is still 37% higher than it was this time last year.
High and volatile food prices are also likely to prevail for the rest of the year, and into 2012, according to the FAO’s biannual report on global food markets, also published on Tuesday. The UN agency warns that weather conditions – too much or too little rain – could weaken maize and wheat yields in Europe and North America, and an overall rundown on food inventories is set to tighten global supply.
Earlier this year, international food prices soared to levels last seen in 2007-08, when a global food crisis provoked riots in 30 countries. Last week, Oxfam launched a new international campaign on the global food system, warning that food prices could double over the next 20 yearsand mark the beginning of a permanent food crisis.
The FAO food index averaged 232 points in May, down only slightly from 235 points in April when the World Bank said rising food prices had pushed 44 million more people into extreme poverty, (those living on $1.25 a day). The FAO food price index takes the average of five price indices (meat, dairy, cereals, oils and sugar) and considers a total of 55 commodity quotations deemed representative of international food prices by FAO specialists.