UN says global food prices have reached their highest mark in a decade

Global food prices were at their highest level in nearly a decade in May, soaring 40 per cent above costs a year ago, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.

Key points:

  • The global food price index for May stood at 127.1 points, the highest it has been since 2011
  • Vegetable oils, sugar and cereals have led to the index rise 
  • Food security fears from the COVID-19 pandemic have also led to the rise in food prices

The FAO’s food price index has now risen for 12 consecutive months to reach its highest value since September 2011, driven by the rising costs of vegetable oils, sugar and cereals.

Prices rose by 4.8 per cent from April — the fastest month-on-month gain since October 2010 — and by nearly 40 per cent compared with May 2020.

The index stood at 127.1 points in May, only 7.6 per cent from its peak value in February 2011, the FAO said.

The sharp rise in food prices also comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown millions out of work, adding to food security fears that were already high due to conflicts and climate change.

The FAO noted that “world cereal production is on course to reach a new record high.”

In a separate report, the FAO said it expected a 1.9 per cent increase in the production of cereals this year to a record 2.82 million tonnes.

Despite the increase, it said the global ratio of food stocks to use was expected to decline to 28.1 per cent.


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