Record food prices in 2022 due to Ukraine war and drought

Record food prices in 2022 due to Ukraine war and drought

Food prices hit record highs in 2022 due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine and droughts linked to climate change.

World prices for commodities like grain and vegetable oils were the highest on record last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Droughts across large parts of the planet, driven by global warming, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and other factors are fuelling the inflationary pressure, which is worsening hunger worldwide.

On Thursday, the UN Development Programme reported that 71 million more people around the world are experiencing poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices.

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of common food stuffs, averaged 143.7 points in 2022, meaning food prices were more than 14% above the 2021 average.

This comes on top of a 28% increase in world food prices recorded by the FAO that year.

Their pricing system is based on five major commodities, such as cereal grains, meat, and sugar.

Prices last year did ease off in December, falling 1.9%. This decline was led by a drop in the price of vegetable oil, expectations of increased soy production in South America and lower crude oil prices.

“Calmer food commodity prices are welcome after two very volatile years,” FAO chief economist Maximo Torero said in a statement.

“It is important to remain vigilant and keep a strong focus on mitigating global food insecurity given that world food prices remain at elevated levels, with many staples near record highs, and with prices of rice increasing, and still many risks associated with future supplies.”

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has worsened the current food price crisis, since both countries are major world suppliers of wheat and grain, especially for Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

A landmark deal in July did ease food shipments across the Black Sea, but supply disruptions pushed prices to record highs, increasing inflation, poverty and food insecurity across large swathes of the developing world.

This came on top of climate shocks that have fueled starvation in places like the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya have been badly hit by the worst drought in decades caused by historically low levels of rainfall, with the UN warning that parts of Somalia are gripped by famine.

Thousands of people have already died in the protracted drought, which is also forcing families to leave their homes in search of food and water.