Universal food import costs are predicted to rise 12% in 2021 due to surging commodity prices and robust demand during the Covid-19 crisis, the United Nations food agency has reported.
According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world's food import bill, including shipping costs, is projected to reach $1.715 trillion this year, from $1.530 trillion in 2020.
“Growth in agricultural trade during the pandemic showed the inelastic nature of food consumption and the resilience of international markets, but price rises since late 2020 were raising risks for poorer import-reliant countries. There have been sharp gains for cereals, vegetable oils and sugar,” the FAO said.
The organisation added that food import values, including freight costs that had also soared, had reached a record in March this year, surpassing levels seen during previous food price spikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2012.
A strong volume increase for staple food imports last year had already driven up global import costs by 3% to a record high.
Exceptions were beverages and fish products that are more sensitive to economic conditions and which saw demand curbed by supply chain difficulties.