The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned Thursday, November 4 of the new increase in world food prices in October. These reached their highest level since July 2011. “There is an urgent need for an international diplomatic response”, pleaded Thursday on franceinfo Valentin Brochard, in charge of food sovereignty advocacy at CCFD-Terre Solidaire. He waits for France “carries this inter-state coordination”. In the event of a protectionist policy in certain states, Valentin Brochard believes that “the situation will unfortunately get worse”.
franceinfo: Why have the prices of basic products, such as milk or vegetable oils, increased so much in recent weeks?
Valentin Brochard: Prices have increased by almost 30% over the past year. With the month of October, this is the third consecutive increase in three months. They are increasing mainly because cereal-exporting countries have had poor harvests, such as wheat in the United States. This drop in harvests is mainly linked to the impacts of climate change. Generally, the climate is the primary cause of agricultural losses. This year, the impacts of climate change were particularly felt on harvests. Since the vast majority of international grain prices are based on the ability of these exporting states to produce correctly and sustainably at a low price, this is currently causing a pass-through price increase.
Should we still expect increases in November or a little later?
It’s a little too early to tell. However, this increase was predictable and this is absolutely nothing new. It has been almost twenty years since international markets have been completely unregulated, with food prices making a bit of a yoyo. We have had an upward trend since the turn of the century. It was already the cause of the hunger riots of the last food crisis, ten years ago. Since then, nothing has really been done to frame these developments.
Which parts of the world are suffering the most from these rising commodity prices?
In the great majority, these are the emerging countries. Food insecurity and hunger no longer correspond to the traditional Epinal image of the famines of the 1980s, with some African countries suffering from famine. We are in a more generalized food insecurity. Hunger has been on the rise for six years and 70% of new people affected live in emerging countries, which depend directly on international commodity markets, whether for import or export. These prices and the evolution of these prices will therefore have a direct impact on countries like Brazil, which is totally dependent on international commodity markets, in particular agricultural commodities.
Will this have a direct impact on our wallet in France?
This will depend on the response put in place by the States, in particular France. It will also depend on the international coordination put in place around this upcoming food crisis. We are already in a situation of food crisis in a large number of countries around the world, following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the signals are a little red because there is no international coordination of response to this ongoing food crisis. Added to this is the surge in prices. There is an urgent need for an international diplomatic response and for France to carry it, with inter-state coordination. If there is not this inter-state coordination and if there are, at the state level, somewhat protectionist policies like what China is doing, this will have repercussions all over the world, including in France. The situation will then unfortunately worsen.