Global food prices soared by 10 per cent in July, with maize and soybean reaching all-time peaks due to an unprecedented summer of droughts and high temperatures in both the United States and Eastern Europe, according to the World Bank Group's latest Food Price Watch report.
This comes after two months of consecutive declines in May and June.
According to a release from the World Bank yesterday, from June to July, maize and wheat rose by 25 per cent each and soybean by 17 per cent. Only rice went down by four per cent.
Overall, the release noted, the World Bank's Food Price Index, which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities, was six per cent higher than in July of last year, and one per cent over the previous peak of February 2011.
"Food prices rose again sharply, threatening the health and well-being of millions of people," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. "Africa and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable, but so are people in other countries where the prices of grains have gone up abruptly."
feeling the pinch
Last month, chief technical director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Marc Panton, told The Gleaner that the hike in food prices could result in consumers feeling the pinch soon.
"It is expected to have a tremendous impact on Jamaica, especially in terms of our animal feed cost. So that is going to affect all the chicken farmers. It should have a direct effect on our chicken prices, pork prices and definitely it will affect our dairy and the ability for our dairy to be competitive," Panton had explained.
"The drought is quite significant and the speculators are entering the market which will further drive the cost up," he added.
Panton had noted that while most of the effects would be on animal products, consumers should also brace for price increases in other agricultural products such as fertiliser.
According to Food Price Watch, prices are expected to remain high and volatile in the long run as a consequence of increasing supply uncertainties, higher demand from a growing population, and the low responsiveness of the food system.