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Rising food prices: the facts

11th October 2012
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You're probably hearing about how much more expensive food will be soon... and it will be. But why is the price going up - and why on earth should you feel fortunate?

What?

There has been a huge rise in the price of grain throughout the world.This has pushed food prices up by 1.4% in September alone, however prices will rise much higher, much faster in the coming months.


Much as we will feel the difference - nearly every food we eat contains wheat - and our purses will be stretched, we are lucky. A competitive market and our membership in the self-sufficient and agricultural EU means that we will probably still be able to eat.

Others may not be so fortunate.


In the developing world, the situation is much worse. Maize prices are up 174% since July 2011 in Malawi, 129% in Mozambique and 52% in Sudan. The crisis has become so bad that families are regularly scheduling 'food-free days', claims Lester Brown of the Earth-policy Institute. When we are moaning about going back to work, these families are deciding which days there will be no food during that week.

Why?  

This is all happening because of unprecedented weather - a direct result of climate change.


Our food prices are kept artificially low by supermarkets and pressure on producers, meaning that the effect for us will be noticeable but manageable. In Africa, however, a new study has shown that 75% of countries on the continent face a severe food crisis in 2013 due to rocketing prices.

Where?

  • Britain has had the wettest summer in a century, leading to 'soul-destroying' crop yields according to Peter Kendall of the NFU.
  • America has had it's worst drought in 50 years, means that corn harvests are down by 45%.
  • A Russian heatwave that devastated much of its countryside has left soya bean crops down by 30%.

When?

The price rises for us will probably trickle through in the coming months, cushioned by both farmers and supermarkets. 
The price rises for the developing world will probably hit within the next few weeks and continue to rise until the next crop harvest in 2013, reaching crisis point just before the harvest as demand runs high and supplies low.




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