Food prices rise around the world

Food prices rise around the world

8th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Inflation is causing the cost of food to skyrocket. Food riots are breaking out across the world while more and more people are going to bed hungry every day.

It is estimated that one-sixth of us are living with less than the most basic of food requirements. 
Empty supermarket shelves © Flickr by-Ewan-M
Food price increases are caused by several different factors. The global food market is connected directly to the soil, and climate change has wreaked havoc on landscapes we have come to rely on. Droughts are plaguing wheat fields in the southern hemisphere. Supply is down, which has increased flour prices by 80% in some areas.

The world consumes more than 550 million tons of rice each year. Bad weather in Asia has crippled the world's rice supply. Bad soil also forces farmers to use more fertilizers and consumers also have to cover that cost. Crops around the world are producing less, or worse, rather than feeding us, they're feeding our cars.
Oil prices
When food is produced, it must be shipped around the world. Boats, trains and cargo trucks bring food from the farms to the stores and markets. As transportation costs rise so do the costs of the items being transported. In an attempt to reduce emissions to stave off climate change and save costs, bio fuels grow in demand.

These are fuels made from some of the things we'd normally eat: palm oil, corn and soy. Sometimes other agricultural crops are ripped out to produce these products, making the food shortage even worse and people continue to reproduce.
                        Photo © Stock
While the world birth rate is slowing down, we are still creating more than 200, 000 new mouths to feed every year. As areas like China and India become more modernized, the middle class grows.

Which may be a good thing for those rising above the poverty line, but it means more adjustments in food demand. More income leads to more demand for meat and that means more grain goes to feed the world's livestock. More demand and less supply means higher prices.
The economy
It may be hard to see the link between the credit crisis and rising food costs, but the stock market invests in food. When the US dollar started behaving erratically investors moved their money into "soft commodities". More demand for food investments on Wall Street led to food price increases.
Photo © Flickr by-mcotner

Listen to this segment of The State We're In when we explore the right to affordable food. We hear from individuals suffering from price increases in Africa, Central America and the United States, the last place you might expect to find people struggling to afford food.

We also speak with Flavio Valente, the Secretary-General of the International Human Rights Organization for the Right to Food. He tells us who should be standing up for our right to affordable food.
Rebecca Pfliger  
Radio Netherlands
Photo credit: aloxeEwanmcotnerStock photos

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