World Food Day: 10 facts about food price inflation

Oct 14, 2022
In light of World Food Day, the increasing cost of food has been all over the news – and on the minds of many here in Canada.  

Many of us are raising questions we’ve never had to ask before. Why are people struggling to pay for staples like rice, bread, eggs and meat, even in one of the world’s wealthiest countries?

Food price inflation is affecting everyone across the globe. It’s been a wake-up call for those who’ve never had to make tough food decisions. The struggle to secure food affordably is one with which many people living in the world’s most destitute countries can resonate. Many vulnerable communities already faced extreme food insecurity before this year -- and inflation is making things worse.

What is happening to these families? How will this worsen if food prices keep rising?   

World Food Day is a critical time to engage in discussions like these. But it’s tough to participate unless you know the basics. Below, we’ll explore 10 facts about food price inflation for World Food Day.

1. In North America and around the world, nearly every food is more expensive than it was. But, the impact of inflation on food prices is disproportionate, with lower-income nations such as Somalia, Myanmar and Honduras being the hardest hit.

2. Canada’s Consumer Price Index has been tracking food prices, noting that they’re increasing at the fastest pace in more than 20 years. Basic staples like wheat and rice are at record high prices.

 

3. Food price inflation occurs when vendors (e.g., grocery stores) manufacturers, food processors and wholesalers of foods are forced to raise prices repeatedly. Their own costs are soaring, mainly because the prices from farmers and importers have been increasing at unprecedented rates.

4. Farmers around the world have been hit especially hard, facing massive cost increases for fertilizer, fuel and feed. Rising oil prices have upped transportation costs, affecting the entire global food market.

Farmer in a field in Honduras experiencing food insecurity.Rony and his family are among the 2.6 million people in Honduras who are experiencing food insecurity. This year, he struggled to produce a fruitful harvest, due to damaged soil from excessive rains and a lack of funds for fertilizer. Photo: Andre Guardiola

5. Food price inflation is driven by multiple factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate shocks and international tensions.

6. We live in a global food community. Crisis in one part of the world can dramatically increase food prices elsewhere. (Ukraine has long been a ‘breadbasket’ for the world, for instance. But hampered exports from Ukraine and Russia during the conflict has severely impacted people across the Horn of Africa.)

A farmer in Ukraine scoops up a handful of soya beans harvested in 2021.Lily, a farmer in Ukraine, scoops up a handful of soya beans harvested in 2021. Such beans are normally processed into oil and soya meal for livestock. Millions of shipments of grain products from Ukraine to countries all over the world have been delayed, impacting not only the recipients, but the income of farmers like Lily, too. Photo: Paul Wu

7. In low-income countries, food costs can consume more than 40 per cent of a family’s budget – and that’s without inflation factored in. Contrast that with just 17 per cent in many high or middle-income nations. While food prices have increased anywhere from 10-40 per cent in low-income countries, national GDPs have not.

8. Right now, 345 million people around the world are suffering from hunger, according to the World Food Programme. The United Nations has described famine-like situations in Somalia. Drought across the Horn of Africa is placing 22 million people at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations.
 
9. Eliminating world hunger is possible – and we’ve seen the evidence. For decades, global hunger had been on the decline until 2015, when climate change, conflict and economic turndown began pushing it up again. 

10. World Vision is the largest distributor of food assistance for the World Food Programme worldwide, ensuring food, cash for work and food vouchers get into people’s hands.

A pastoralist feeding his camel in Somalia, trying to keep it alive.In southern Somalia, Abdullah, a pastoralist, is trying to keep his camels alive amidst severe drought With a high cost for bags of feed in the market and no pasture in sight, he has lost nearly all his livestock. Photo: Gwayi Patrick

Check out the ‘food' section of World Vision’s Gift Catalogue, to help ensure children and families are nourished – even in the midst of food crisis. Your gift of Emergency Food, for instance, multiplies 7X in value for a donation of $25 or more. Baby Chicks grow up to provide food and income for a gift of $20 or more.

On World Food Day or any day, a gift of nutrition to children and families in dire need not only saves lives. It makes a powerful statement about the right of every child and adult to adequate food.

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