World food prices hit 10-year peak in 2021

World food prices have jumped 28% over 2021 for the highest average level since 2011, contributing to the broader surge in inflation as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.

A boy holds a cardboard box of food aid received from World Food Programme in Aleppo's Kalasa district, Syria, April 10, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)
A boy holds a cardboard box of food aid received from World Food Programme in Aleppo's Kalasa district, Syria, April 10, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)

World food prices eased in December after four consecutive monthly gains but jumped 28% over 2021 for the highest average level since 2011, the UN food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 133.7 points last month compared with a revised 134.9 for November.

The November figure was previously given as 134.4.

For 2021 as a whole, the benchmark index averaged 125.7 points, up 28.1% from 2020 and the highest since 131.9 in 2011.

The monthly index has been running at 10-year highs, reflecting harvest setbacks and strong demand over the past year.

 People crowd to get food rations from a charity kitchen in Sanaa, Yemen July 20, 2020. Picture taken July 20, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/KHALED ABDULLAH) People crowd to get food rations from a charity kitchen in Sanaa, Yemen July 20, 2020. Picture taken July 20, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/KHALED ABDULLAH)

With the exception of dairy products, prices for all categories in the food price index eased in December, with vegetable oils and sugar falling significantly, the agency said.

However, all categories showed sharp increases over 2021, it added.

Higher food prices have also contributed to a broader surge in inflation as economic activity recovers from the coronavirus crisis.

The FAO has warned that higher food costs in import-reliant countries are putting poorer populations at risk.