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Global Food Prices Reach 14-Month High, FAO Report Says

In its latest report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Wednesday said the agency’s Food Price Index had been increasing for four consecutive months and reached a 14-month high in November, Reuters reports. FAO said the “index – which measures monthly price changes for a food basket composed of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar – averaged 168 points last month, the highest since September 2008. That level was still 21 percent below a peak in June 2008, at the height of the food price crisis, but FAO noted that prior to the price spike of 2007/08 the index had never exceeded 120 points,” the news service writes (Aloisi, 12/9).

“Risk is the new normal when it comes to food,” Josette Sheeran, head of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), said at a news conference Wednesday to launch a new WFP-commissioned report on climate change and hunger. “We believe that the volatility in price and supply is with us for the predictable future,” she said, Reuters AlertNet reports.

“Prices of 80 percent of the commodities in the developing world that are tracked by the [WFP] and the [FAO] are higher now than a year ago, Sheeran said. Price volatility has also caused WFP to change the way it tracks commodity prices: the agency now updates them every month compared to annually before 2008,” according to the news service (Nguyen, 12/9). 

Alex Evans, co-author of the WFP report, “said that climate change was a ‘threat multiplier’ that made everything more difficult. ‘What comes out of this is a need to look at the prevention, and not just the cure side,’ he said,” according to a WFP press release. The release contains audio from the news conference (12/9).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.