Food and Water

Why food prices are on the rise

Imported European cheeses are seen on display at the Bowers Fancy Dairy Products shop in Washington's Eastern Market several weeks before the Trump administration's tariffs on European Union cheeses are set to kick in across the country and in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2019. Picture taken October 3, 2019.   REUTERS/Kevin Fogarty - RC1E7885CCE0

The dairy index climbed 2.2% on the month, with all segments of the sector registering gains, most noticeably cheese. Image: REUTERS/Kevin Fogarty

Reuters Staff
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Food and Water?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Pandemic Preparedness and Response is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Pandemic Preparedness and Response

  • World food prices rose for a fifth consecutive month in October, according to the United Nations food agency.
  • The prices have now recovered fully from the shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.

World food prices rose for a fifth month running in October, fully recovering from the shock caused by the global coronavirus pandemic and with gains seen in most sectors, according to the United Nations food agency.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 100.9 points last month, the highest since January, versus a slightly revised 97.8 in September.

Have you read?

The September figure was previously given as 97.9.

The Rome-based FAO also said in a statement that worldwide cereal harvests remained on course to hit an annual record in 2020, even though it slightly trimmed its previous forecasts.

The agency’s cereal price index jumped 7.2% in October from the month before, some 16.5% above its value a year earlier.

Wheat export prices were pushed higher amidst shrinking supplies, while maize hit over six-year highs, lifted by strong demand from China. Feed barley and sorghum prices also rose, while rice, by contrast, touched 7-month lows.

Average sugar prices surged 7.6% from September and were up 9.3% on the year, boosted primarily by the prospects of lower sugar output in both Brazil and India, the two largest sugar producing countries, due to below average rainfalls.

The dairy index climbed 2.2% on the month, with all segments of the sector registering gains, most noticeably cheese.

The vegetable oil price index climbed 1.8% month-on-month, thanks largely to firmer palm and soy oil quotations, while the rapeseed oil component dipped on the back of uncertainty over demand within the European Union.

The meat index bucked the rising trend seen elsewhere to post a 0.5% month-on-month decline, the ninth monthly decline since January, and a 10.7% drop year-on-year, with quotations for pig meat once again dropping on the back of China’s move to ban imports from Germany following the detection of African swine fever in Europe’s largest economy.

FAO revised down its forecast for the 2020 cereal season for a second month running, cutting it by almost 13 million tonnes, reflecting lower expectations for the output of global coarse grains.

However, despite this reduction, the agency still expected a record harvest this year of 2.75 billion tonnes, up 1.6% on 2019 levels.

“Prospects for the 2021 winter wheat crop, which is already being sown in the northern hemisphere, are generally strong, reflecting the expectations of increased plantings in response to higher prices in several main producing countries, notably in the EU,” FAO said.

The forecast for world cereal utilisation in 2020/21 was put at 2.745 billion tonnes, up 1.9% from the 2019/20 level.

The forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2021 was 876 million tonnes, down 13.6 million tonnes from the previous estimate posted last month.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Food and WaterIndustries in DepthHealth and Healthcare SystemsForum Institutional
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Safe drinking water is a right, not a luxury. Here's how to ensure no one goes thirsty

Christian Troy and Riley Garrison

July 12, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum