FAO Food Outlook Sees Surging Food, Agricultural Import Bills
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The latest Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food Outlook, released on November 11, 2022, sees continued challenges for global food security due to high energy and fertilizer costs, climate change, trade restrictions, economic downturns, and continuing conflicts around the world.
The global food import bill is forecast to reach US$1.94 trillion by the end of 2022, according to the biannual report. This represents a 10% increase from 2021, with poorer nations bearing the brunt of the negative impacts of rising food prices. While the total food import costs for low-income countries remains virtually unchanged in 2022, the total volume of food imports is expected to fall by 10 percent – meaning low-income countries are receiving less food for the same cost.
Similarly, the global agricultural import bill for 2022 is forecast to rise by almost 50% from 2021 and by 112% from 2020. This enormous increase, to US$424 billion, is being driven by the high costs of energy and fertilizers.
The report’s findings vary across commodities. For wheat, global inventories are expected to rise from the previous year, but most of that increase will be concentrated in a small group of countries. Other countries will continue to face export disruptions, reducing overall wheat trade in 2022-2023. Coarse grain production is anticipated to fall in 2022-2023, impacting trade, stocks, and food and feed use in turn. The news for rice is slightly better, despite poor weather conditions and rising input costs; global rice harvests and stocks are expected to be more than adequate in 2022-2023. Oilseed production has also recovered from the previous year’s setbacks, which should ease some market difficulties for these crops; however, the report highlights that this forecast remains dependent on a variety of factors and could trend downward throughout the coming season.