World food prices rose to near a record in April as grain costs advanced, adding pressure to inflation that is accelerating from Beijing to Brasilia and spurring central banks to raise interest rates.
The cost of living in the U.S. rose at its fastest pace since December 2009 in the 12 months ended in March, the same month in which Chinese consumer prices rose by the most since 2008. The European Central Bank raised interest rates on April 7, joining China, India, Poland and Sweden in a bid to control inflation partly blamed on food costs. Costlier food also contributed to riots across northern Africa and the Middle East that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia this year.
Food output will have to climb by 70 percent from 2010 to 2050 as the world population swells to 9 billion and rising incomes boost meat and dairy consumption, the Food and Agriculture Organization forecasts. Producing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pork can take 3.5 kilograms of feed, U.S. Department of Agriculturedata shows.
About 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since June by the “dangerous levels” of food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in February. Another 10 million may join them should the UN food index rise another 10 percent, the World Bank said April 16. The number of hungry people in the world globally declined last year to 925 million from more than 1 billion in 2009, according to the FAO.
“A sliding dollar and increased oil prices are contributing to high food-commodity prices,” Hallam said.