The United Nations food agency has indicated that world food prices jumped to an almost six-year high in November, the highest increase since December 2014.
An index published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 3rd December said that prices for several food products had risen significantly.
The index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of food products, averaged 105.0 points in November compared with the previous month when it stood at 101.0 according to an adjusted figure.
The monthly increase was the sharpest since July 2012, putting the index at its “highest level since December 2014,” the Rome-based agency said.
Leading the surge in prices was vegetable oil, rising 14.5% month-on-month due largely to a jump in palm oil prices. The FAO described the increase as “stunning.”
Cereals, sugar, meat, and dairy also showed rises according to the index.
The sugar price index was up 3.3% month-on-month amid “growing expectations of a global production shortfall” as poor weather affected crop in the EU, Russia, and Thailand.
Cereal prices were up by 2.5%, with prices almost 20% above their level last year.
The increases for meat and dairy were both 0.9% above the figure for October. While meat prices were down 13.7% on the same time last year, there were monthly increases for bovine and pork with a fall in poultry prices.
The agency said an increase in prices was an extra burden for those whose income had fallen because of coronavirus. It said the COVID-19 pandemic was proving to be “an important driver of the levels of global food insecurity.”
“The pandemic is exacerbating and intensifying already fragile conditions caused by conflicts, pests and weather shocks, including recent hurricanes in Central America and floods in Africa,” it said.
The FAO said that 45 countries, 34 of them in Africa, continued to be in need of external help to secure enough food.
The agency also pointed out the risk of above-average rainfall in southern Africa and East Asia. In parts of Near East Asia and East Africa, there was an expectation of reduced rains which represented “conditions that may result in adverse production shocks,” the agency said.
Meanwhile, in response to the effects of the pandemic, Singapore is trying to produce 30% of its own food by 2030, an increase from less than 10%.
As such, its government has approved the sale of laboratory- created chicken in the country, becoming the first government to allow the sale of cultured meat.
The product by Eat Just Inc., a maker of meat and egg substitutes, is created from animal cells without the slaughter of any chickens.
“We want Singapore to be the focus of our manufacturing globally,” CEO of Eat Just Inc., Josh Tetrick said in an interview. “They’re just really forward thinking in building an enabling environment for this kind of work.”
He added that the chicken’s flavour and taste are the same as the real thing.
The government announced the product will debut in Singapore under the GOOD Meat brand as a chicken bite with breading and seasoning in a single restaurant.