Food prices rose worldwide following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Together, these two countries produce around 30 percent of all wheat exports, in addition to other grains and related foodstuffs.
The Food Outlook report warns that existing differences between richer and poorer countries are likely to become more pronounced.
High-income countries will continue to import from the entire spectrum of food products, while their developing world counterparts will increasingly focus on staple items.
Food import costs globally are projected to reach nearly $2 trillion this year, or higher than previously expected, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report published on Friday.
The new forecast of $1.94 trillion would represent an all-time high and a 10 per cent increase over the record level of 2021.
Although the bulk of the increase in the global food import bill will be accounted for by richer countries, rising food costs have disproportionately affected poorer nations.
“These are alarming signs from a food security perspective, indicating importers are finding it difficult to finance rising international costs, potentially heralding an end of their resilience to higher international prices”, FAO said.
Last month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a new Food Shock Window to provide emergency financing to lower-income countries. FAO has welcomed the move, calling it an important step to ease the burden of soaring food import costs.
The Food Outlook report is published twice a year by the agency’s Markets and Trade Division. It also contains market supply and utilization trends for commodities such as cereals, oils, sugar, meat, dairy and fish. Currently, supplies are at close to record levels, though multiple factors indicate tighter markets ahead.
For example, world wheat production is forecast to reach a record 784 million tons over the coming year, boosted by significant harvest recoveries in Canada and Russia. Although this should push global wheat inventories to record levels, the report said that accumulations are expected mostly in China and Russia, while stock levels are predicted to decline by eight per cent in the rest of the world.
“Negative repercussions for global agricultural output and food security” are likely to extend into 2023, said FAO.
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