In this section, you may find new materials that have been published on the topic of ‘Food Price Volatility’ since the date of the event. We continually select major new publications and articles that add up to the policy points discussed in the briefing.
The incidence of import surges fell during the recent period of higher global food prices. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this was not because import volumes fell, but because they increased at a rapid and more constant rate. The implications of different patterns of imports therefore need to be better reflected in the design of safeguard mechanisms.
International trade in food products has increased rapidly in recent decades. Although this trend is widely held to have been beneficial in terms of increasing the availability of, and access to, food there remain concerns that openness to trade can expose developing agriculture sectors to greater levels of market instability and disruption. For example, significant, unexpected increases in imports – so-called “import surges” – can depress incentives for investment in domestic market development by private sector actors who generally have limited recourse to risk management instruments.
One of the modalities currently under negotiation in the Doha Round, and which is designed to address such concerns, is the establishment of a new Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for use by developing countries. Negotiations on this mechanism have been particularly difficult, highlighting different perceptions about its effectiveness and the potentially negative consequences of its use, particularly if it were to be used in ways that unnecessarily disrupt trade.
– How volatile are African food prices?
Instability in the price of staple foods is an important source of risk in developing countries. This is particularly true in Africa south of the Sahara because of the low incomes of many African households. Poor urban households allocate a large share of their income to food, so food price volatility affects their purchasing power. Many poor rural households depend on agriculture for their livelihood, so they too are directly influenced by food price volatility.
– Food Prices October 2013 update
Overseas Development Institute (ODI), October 2013
ODI’s food prices updates focus on tracking international prices of key staple cereals maize, rice, and wheat, and provide commentary on events in markets that affect these prices. They also follow international food and commodity price indices. Record global harvests are projected for 2013/14 for all the main cereals. Spot prices of maize and wheat have fallen to US$200 a tonne formaize and US$335 a tonne for wheat — now US$ 142 and US$ 47 a tonne below their respective peaks in 2012. Thai export rice prices have also been falling. Thai A1 Super was US$178 less than February, at US$406 a tonne in October. Rice from other exporters is even cheaper: Vietnamese 25% B was US$362 a tonne in September2013.
– Food Prices Decline but Remain High
The World Bank, 25-07-2013
Global food prices declined for three consecutive quarters, then rose in May and June, remaining close to historical peaks. Some countries with high poverty and weak safety nets are now responding to this chronic volatility by scaling up consumer food subsidies but these are often counter-productive.
– Will there be a global food crisis in 2013?
IRIN Global, 17-01-2013
Drought last year devastated much of the maize crop in the US, the world’s biggest maize exporter, driving prices of the staple cereal to record levels. While food experts did not anticipate the rising prices would trigger the kind of crises seen in 2008 and 2011 – when the world faced structural deficits in the more widely consumed staples wheat and rice – they are concerned about the ability of the world’s poorest people to feed themselves.
IRIN News, 08-10-2012
After a year of severe droughts in major cereal-supplying countries, crop projections for 2013 bode ill for global stocks of wheat, maize and soybeans, warned the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). But the harm may be limited by a system established to prevent a repeat of the 2007-2008 food price crisis.
– Net Food-Importing Developing Countries
High and volatile food prices pose new challenges to poor, net food-importing countries. This paper seeks to identify which countries may be most vulnerable to recent price trends, and identifies tools that domestic decision-makers could use to promote food security
–US and EU must change biofuel targets to avert food crisis, says Nestlé chief
The Guardian, 04-09-2012
Food company chief executive labels biofuels an aberration and expresses concern about potential impact of water wastage.
–Tackling the causes of high food prices
Coordinated international action can stop another food crisis like the one in 2007-2008, argue José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin of the United Nations. José Graziano da Silva is the director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Kanayo F. Nwanze is the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Ertharin Cousin is the executive director of the UN World Food Programme.
IRIN News, 06-08-2012
As global grain prices begin to climb, the Sahel countries of West Africa, those in the Horn, and in central and southern Africa – many of which depend mainly on imported cereals to feed their people – are most exposed to the impact of more expensive food, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Around the world plenty of people are already living with high food prices, and more will be joining them.