This news made headlines in the international press at the beginning of 2011: global food prices reached a record high in December and even exceeded the peaks of 2008. In 2008, soaring prices caused riots in developing countries.
This was what the FAO announced on 5th January 2011, when it published a new report on the evolution of the international food price index. After rising steadily for six months, the index reached 214.7 points in December, the highest since June 2008 (213.5 points). Sugar, cereals and oilseed have been particularly affected.
According to experts, this strong increase is explained by two main factors. Firstly, the rapid increase in consumption in highly populated countries like China, which has exerted pressure on the demand. Secondly, climate hazards have severely affected some major exporting states. In the summer of 2010 in particular, Russia was affected by a drought which partly destroyed crops, pushing the government to impose an embargo on grain exports. Result: prices on international markets have soared.
Abdolreza Abbassian, the FAO economist responsible for monitoring the grain sector, called the increase "very worrying" because it affects the basic food commodities which are the core of nutrition for millions of people, especially in developing countries. Therefore, not only must we fear that this "agflation" prevents poor people from buying these commodities which have become too expensive, but also, it could lead to social unrest in some vulnerable regions.