Food import costs rise to record in 2022, threatening world’s poorest – FAO

LONDON, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Global food import costs are on track to hit a record close to $2 trillion in 2022, increasing pressure on the world’s poorest countries that have likely shipped considerably lower volumes of food, the UN Food Agency said on Friday.

Global food prices hit record highs in March after Russia invaded Ukraine, a major grain and oilseed producer, and although they have since fallen somewhat, they remain above high levels of last year.

This increase disproportionately affects economically vulnerable countries and is expected to continue to do so next year, although the overall agricultural supply situation is expected to improve somewhat.

“These are alarming signs from a food security perspective,” the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its biannual Food Outlook report.

The global food import bill is expected to reach $1.94 trillion this year, up 10% year on year and more than expected, the FAO said.

He noted that food import volumes for low-income countries are expected to decline by 10%, with their food import bill for the year remaining virtually unchanged, indicating growing affordability issues.

“Importers are struggling to finance rising international costs, potentially signaling the end of their resilience to rising international prices,” the FAO said.

For agricultural inputs like fertilizers, which require a lot of energy to produce, the FAO said global import costs are expected to rise by almost 50% this year to $424 billion, forcing some countries to buy and use less.

This will inevitably lead to lower productivity, lower domestic food availability and “negative impacts on global agricultural production and food security” in 2023, he said.

Looking to the 2022/23 season, the agency sees wheat production jump 0.6% year-on-year to a record 784 million tonnes, but notes that increases are expected mainly in China and Russia. , leaving stocks down 8% in the rest of the world.

Production of coarse grains such as maize, barley and sorghum is expected to fall by 2.8% during the season.

On the positive side, however, the FAO said oilseed production is expected to rebound 4.2% to a record high, sugar production is expected to increase by 2.6%, while rice production is expected to remain at global average levels thanks to resilient plantations in Asia and recovery of production in Africa.

Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Sandra Maler

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Angel Maytaal

Thomson Reuters

Award-nominated journalist covering high-impact events in agricultural commodities and agricultural commodities in general, analyzing industry trends and revealing developments driving the market. Work has included investigative reporting on commodity trade flows, corporate strategy, farmer poverty, sustainability, climate change and government policy.

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