• The dramatic surge in food prices in 2007–2008 seriously threatened the world’s poor, who struggle to buy food even under normal circumstances, and led to protests and riots in the developing world. The crisis eventually receded, providing some measure of relief for citizens in the countries that were most affected by the price surge; yet the FAO’s recent statement that global food prices reached a record high in December 2010 has raised the specter of another crisis.

  • How is a country affected by changes in the global prices of its export and import commodities?
    What is the change in short-run prices when a country’s food supply is increased?

    Answering such questions can pose a major challenge to global policymakers as they strive to respond to global and national food crises. It is essential that policymakers and researchers have access to the latest food security research and policy tools in order to strengthen national and global capacity to respond effectively to food policy challenges.

  • The FAO has released its Food Price Index for December, 2010. This report provides a measure of the monthly change in international prices for major food commodities. The December Price Index shows a marked increase in global food prices, with higher sugar, grain, and oilseed costs driving world food prices to a record high.

    To view the whole report, visit http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/FoodPricesIndex/en/.

  • Increasing food prices present both challenges and opportunities for the developing world. Just as the transmission of global prices to domestic prices can differ by country and commodity, the effects of changes in food prices within a country can differ from household to household. The welfare of urban and rural households may be affected differently, as will the welfare of net consumers compared to that of net producers.

  • Worldwide climatic events in 2010 made it clear that food security can be greatly impacted by unexpected changes in climate. Wildfires in Russia, floods in Pakistan and Australia, and drought in China led to increases in the price of staple agricultural commodities and caused widespread fear about the recurrence of a world food crisis. As the world's population continues to grow, a changing climate will present more and more challenges to sustainable agricultural growth and food security.

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