Food prices hit record highs, threatening the world’s poorest

IMF data shows that average food inflation around the world reached 6.85% on an annualized basis in December, the highest level since the start of their series in 2014. Between April 2020 and December 2021, the price soybeans soared 52%, and that of corn and wheat both rose 80%, according to fund data, while the price of coffee rose 70%, mainly due to droughts and frost in Brazil.

While food prices look set to stabilize, events like conflict in Ukraine, a major wheat and corn producer, or further adverse weather conditions could alter that calculation, Bogmans said.

The effects of rising food prices have been felt unevenly around the world. Asia was largely spared due to an abundant rice harvest. But parts of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America that rely more on imported food are struggling.

Countries like Russia, Brazil, Turkey and Argentina also suffered as their currencies lost value against the dollar, which is used internationally to pay for most food, Bogmans said. .

In Africa, severe weather, pandemic restrictions and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan have disrupted transport routes and driven up food prices.

Joseph Siegle, research director at the National Defense University’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, estimated that 106 million people on the continent face food insecurity, doubling since 2018.

“Africa is facing record levels of insecurity,” he said.

While shopping at a market in Mexico City’s Juarez neighborhood on Thursday, Gabriela Ramírez Ramírez, a 43-year-old domestic worker, said rising prices had taken a toll on her monthly budget, about half of which is devoted to food.

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