Facts and Figures

The recent increases in the prices of the main agricultural commodities have caused the number of people suffering from hunger to rise from 850 million to 963 million

  • The success in agricultural production led to a 30-year decline in food prices in most countries, a trend that lasted until very recently. 
  • But the recent increases in the prices of the main agricultural commodities have caused the number of people suffering from hunger to rise from 850 million to 963 million. 
  • Between September 2007 and March 2008 the price of wheat, corn, rice and other cereals rose an average of 41% on the international market. From the beginning of 2000 to the middle of 2008, butter and milk prices tripled, and poultry prices have almost doubled. 
  • Prices have fallen since mid-2008 thanks to good prospects for world food production, the overall slowdown of the world economy and reductions in the price of oil.
  • Water scarcity may limit food production and supply, putting pressure on food prices and increasing countries’ dependence on food imports. Rising demand for food caused by growing populations and shifting diets, production shortfall in some countries, increased costs for key agricultural inputs such as fertilizers (driven in turn by energy costs), bioenergy-related incentives in some countries and possible financial speculation have all contributed to the steep rises in food prices.
  • Although the impact is extremely difficult to assess, bioenergy production is estimated to have caused up to 70%-75% of the rise in the global prices of some food stocks, including approximately 70% of the increase in maize prices.

Related themes: Food and Agriculture; Energy

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