World Bank: Food prices high, but stable
Global food prices remained stable, though close to 2008 record levels, according to the World Bank.
It warned that a “new norm” of costlier food was setting in and threatening to increase hunger and malnutrition in the world’s poorer regions.
In an update of its quarterly “Food Price Watch” report, the World Bank said the absence of “panic policies,” such as food export restrictions, had helped stabilize commodity prices since price spikes in July.
“Even as the world seems to have averted a global food price crisis, a growing sense of a ‘new norm’ of high and volatile prices seems to be consolidating,” the World Bank said. “The world cannot afford to get used to or be complacent with high and volatile food prices.” The World Bank food price index shows that while prices have stabilized they are 7 percent higher than a year ago.
In particular, grains are up 12 percent from a year ago and close to the all-time high set during a global food price crisis in 2008, when food riots broke out in Asia and Africa.
The worst droughts in more than half a century in the United States corn belt and food basket regions of the Black Sea pushed up the global prices of wheat and maize this year, at a time that the world economy was slowing and Europe has been engulfed in a debt crisis.