Food prices could soar up by 40 per cent in next decade, UN report warns

15 June 2010 – Global prices of food could climb by as much as 40 per cent in the coming decade, as the global population continues to surge, a new United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report released today says.

The Agriculture Outlook 2010-19 anticipates that wheat and coarse grain prices could jump to levels of between 15 and 40 per cent higher than they were between 1997 and 2006, while vegetable oil and dairy prices are also projected to rise by more than 40 per cent.

Spikes in livestock prices are not expected to be as marked, even in the face rising global demand for meat which is set to outpace demand for other commodities as some segments of the population in emerging economies alter their dietary habits due to increased wealth.

The report, jointly published with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), notes that global agricultural output will ease in the next decade, but food production will meet the demand generated by surging population growth by 2050.

However, even if enough food is produced to feed the world’s people, recent price spikes and the economic crisis have resulted in stepped-up hunger and food insecurity, with some one billion people now believed to be undernourished.

The publication calls for enhanced agricultural production and productivity as well as a well-functioning, rules-based trading system to spur fair competition and ensure that food can move from surplus to deficit areas.

“The role of developing countries in international markets is growing quickly, and as their impact grows, their policies also have an increasing bearing on conditions in global markets,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said at the report’s launch in Rome.

As a result, these nations’ role and contribution is global policy is crucial, he stressed, urging a more global scope to discussions on fighting hunger and malnutrition.

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