World’s food import bill on the rise – FAO

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The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in it Food Outlook report has stated that the cost of importing food has risen in 2017 to $1.413 trillion, a 6% increase from the previous year. This is even as prices of food commodity have been generally stable.
The report published recently on it website, stated that the higher import bill is driven by increased international demand for most foodstuffs as well as higher freight rates.
Of particular concern according to the report is the economic and social implications of the double-digit increases in the food import bills for Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) and Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCS).
FAO economist Adam Prakash, said: “Higher bills do not necessarily translate into more food being bought by them as the cost of importing has greatly escalated”.
The higher import costs come at a time when inventories are robust, harvest forecasts are strong and food commodity markets remain well supplied.
The food commodity outlook, issued twice a year, takes a close look at the markets of key food categories, including cassava, the livestock and dairy sectors, fish, vegetable oils and the main cereal grains.
While production trends are broadly strong across the board, average prices in international transactions can mask more specific trends.
For instance, while international wheat prices have been flat, U.S. Hard Red Spring wheat, a popular high-quality variety with enough protein content to make noodles and pasta, was 40 percent higher in July 2017 than a year ago. Aromatic rice varieties have risen eight times faster than the FAO All Rice Index, which is up 4 percent on the year. Likewise, the FAO Butter Price Index has risen 41 percent so far in 2017, more than three times as much as the Dairy Price Index of which it is a component.
The livestock and dairy sectors are particularly dynamic. The meat import bill is set to reach an all-time high of USD 176 billion this year, up 22 percent from 2016. World milk production is predicted to grow by 1.4 percent, led by a robust 4 percent expansion in India, even as more stringent environmental regulations and quality controls in China may lead to a contraction there.
World output of oi lseeds oils – vegetable oils and animal fats are the largest items in the LIFDC import bills – is expected to increase slightly this year after last year’s strong season. But global soybean production, despite a planting boom in the Northern Hemisphere, is set to decline as yields return to normal levels after last year’s nearly optimal weather.
Opportunities loom for tropical fruits
Tropical fruits are increasingly stars in global trade, with export volumes of mango, pineapple, avocado and papayas on course to achieve a total combined value of USD 10 billion this year, according to the Food Outlook.

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