Food import bill expected to hit a record

File: A bag filled with food products. Unsplash/Maria Lin Kim

PARIS - The global cost of food imports is expected to hit a record this year and weigh heavily on developing nations still suffering effects of the covid pandemic.

In its bi-annual "Food Outlook", the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization forecast that food imports would rise by 12 percent in monetary terms to $1.72 trillion.

FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian told AFP this would be a record.

He said the increase was due to both to rising prices and volumes.

Josef Schmidhuber, deputy director of the FAO's Trade and Markets Division, said trade volumes were rising as national economies recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.

The economies of rich nations and China are recovering the fastest. 

Developing and emerging nations, however, are facing higher prices for food imports as their economies and populations continue to suffer effects of the pandemic.

"Rising prices raise concerns that higher outlays may still mask deteriorating quantitative and qualitative dietary trends in vulnerable countries," said the FAO in a statement accompanying the report.

It noted that the ratio of agricultural trade to non-agricultural trade was rising, which could be an early warning indicator for crisis in certain regions.

Production of all major food crops except sugar are expected to rise this year.

But increased output of oilseed crops is not expected to match greater demand. 

While wheat and rice stocks are robust, those of grains used for livestock feed and in industry are forecast to fall despite what is expected to be record production.


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