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Food Price Watch, February 2014: Prices Decline at a Slower Pace; Focus on Food Loss and Waste

This issue shows that global food prices declined by 3 percent between October 2013 and January 2014, but remain close to all-time highs, and also explores the staggering amount of food lost and wasted around the globe. 

In this issue...
  • Global food prices continued to decline, but at a slower pace than in the previous quarter.
  • Domestic prices saw typical variations; many regions saw stability while East and South Asia experienced mixed trends.
  • Special focus on food loss and waste explores this major threat to food security and poverty reduction and discusses how to combat this.
Contact the Team
Author
Consultant

Julie Barbet-Gros

jbarbetgros@worldbank.org

Replay a live chat on food loss and waste with author José Cuesta  

Prices of internationally traded food commodities continued to decline—by 3%—between October 2013 and January 2014, adding another quarter to previously observed price declines since the August 2012 historical high. Record harvests in wheat, maize and rice, increasing availability of supplies, and stronger global stocks have continued to drive down prices.

Yet, international prices are still not overly far from their historical peak. Upward pressures from weather concerns and increasing demand, and downward risks from the effects on export prices of an increasingly contested Thai rice procurement program continue to require close monitoring.

Domestic food prices show their typical large variations across countries, with stable prices among a number of regions and mixed trends in East and South Asia as a result of seasonal factors, procurement policies, and localized production shortfalls. 

This issue of the Food Price Watch  also explores food losses and food waste across the globe, using key estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Resources Institute.

Open Quotes

The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful. Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market. We have to tackle this problem in every country in order to improve food security and to end poverty. Close Quotes

Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank Group

Astonishing figures indicate that the world loses or wastes about one-quarter to one-third of the food it produces for consumption. In Africa and South Asia, regions severely affected by undernourishment, this loss represents 400–500 kcal per person per day.

In addition to their impact on food insecurity, food loss and waste cause huge economic, energy, and natural resource inefficiencies and have poverty implications. Potential solutions to prevent food loss and waste include changing agricultural production techniques; making large investments in transport and storage infrastructure; and changing consumer and commercial behavior.

Read the full report here, and join author José Cuesta for a live chat on food loss and waste, Tuesday, March 4 at 9am ET.