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This blog was originally posted on IFPRI.org. It was written by Swati Malhotra and Alexandria Richter.
More than 155 million people experienced acute food insecurity at crisis level or worse around the world in 2020, an increase of 20 million from 2019 and a five-year high, as the COVID-19 pandemic compounded economic shocks, conflicts, and climate and severe weather impacts, estimates the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC).
Global food prices are on the rise. FAO’s Food Price Index indicates prices in international markets have risen by 40 percent from a year ago (May 2020). Prices of vegetable oils in particular have surged, showing an increase by almost 110 percent over the past year. Other commodity prices, like those for metals, oil, and other minerals prices also have shown sustained increases since mid-2020.
How concerned should we be?
Smallholder and agrifood SME resilience to shocks: Lessons from COVID-19 for the UN Food System Summit
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the vulnerability and the resilience of food supply chains. Supply chains from farm to retail have been disrupted, primarily by government-imposed lockdowns and other restrictions affecting labor supply, input provisioning, logistics, wholesale, retailing, and food service. Supply chains have also shown a good deal of resilience and innovative capacity to adapt to the major supply and demand shocks they encountered.
The FAO Food Price Index continued to surge in May, rising 4.8 percent from the previous month. Prices are now 38.9 percent higher than May 2020 and the highest seen since September 2011. This twelfth consecutive month of increases also brings the Index just 7.6 percent below the record highs of February 2011.
The FAO Food Price Index continued its 11-month climb in April, rising by 1.7 percent from March 2021. The Index also surged 30.8 percent above its April 2020 levels to reach its highest level seen since May 2014.