World food prices surge 28% in 2021

Global food prices reached a 10-year high in 2021, according to latest analysis by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The FAO’s Food Price Index showed that across 2021, international food prices were 28.1% higher than in 2020, with the cost of vegetable oils and cereals rising most significantly.

The index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly traded food commodities, showed that cereal prices eased back slightly in December 2021, off the back of improved supply following harvest in the Southern hemisphere.

See also: Read more from Farmers Weekly on market prices and trends

However, looking at the year as a whole, cereal prices averaged 27.2% higher than in 2020, reaching their highest annual level since 2012. 

Maize prices were up 44.1% and wheat prices up 31.3%.

Vegetable oil prices reached an all-time high, increasing 65.8% on 2020 levels.

FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian warned that while high prices would normally be expected to give way to increased production this might not happen imminently.

“The high cost of inputs, the ongoing global pandemic and ever more uncertain climatic conditions leave little room for optimism about a return to more stable market conditions even in 2022,” he said.

Meat and dairy

The FAO said that its meat price index was broadly stable in December, but over 2021 as a whole, prices were 12.7% higher than in 2020.

Dairy prices averaged 16.9% higher than in 2020, with the price of butter and skimmed milk powder (SMP) rising because of lower milk production in Western Europe and Oceania.


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