Food Prices Killing Poor, Staggering Middle Classes

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Food Prices Killing Poor, Staggering Middle Classes

World food prices have surged to historic peaks according to the FAO Food Price Index (of commodities). The rise is the seventh consecutive month bringing the index to its highest level in nominal and real terms (since the Index was established in 1990. The rise has been attributed to high demand, bad weather, recent poor harvests and diversion of crops to biofuels. I would also add untempered speculation in almost all commodities.

Food prices are bringing poor populations to brink of starvation but also hurting developed countries' middle classes.

Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts

World food prices surged to a new historic peak in January, for the seventh consecutive month, according to the updated FAO Food Price Index, a commodity basket that regularly tracks monthly changes in global food prices.

The Index averaged 231 points in January and was up 3.4 percent from December 2010. This is the highest level (both in real and nominal terms) since FAO started measuring food prices in 1990. Prices of all monitored commodity groups registered strong gains in January, except for meat, which remained unchanged.

FAO emphasized that the Food Price Index has been revised, largely reflecting adjustments to its meat price index. The revision, which is retroactive, has produced new figures for all the indices but the overall trends measured since 1990 remain unchanged.

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 245 points in January, up 3 percent from December and the highest since July 2008, but still 11 percent below its peak in April 2008. The increase in January mostly reflected continuing increases in international prices of wheat and maize, amid tightening supplies, while rice prices fell slightly, as the timing coincides with the harvesting of main crops in major exporting countries.


Language: English

Year of Production: 2011

Length: 1:30 mins

Country: United Nations


  • Mo Sacirbey


  • Susan Sacirbey