The Index averaged 231 points last month compared to 232 points in July. It was 26 percent higher than in August 2010 but seven points below its all-time high of 238 points in February 2011.
In over two decades of tracking world food prices, the U.N. Food and Agricultural organization index has never stayed so high for so long. This represents true suffering for hundreds of millions of people who live on the edge, for whom food is a large fraction of their income like, say, North Africa (see Expert consensus grows on contribution of record high food prices to Middle East unrest).
And this year’s warming-driven extreme weather is likely to help keep food prices high for a while:
Food prices could rise next year because an unseasonably hot summer likely damaged much of this year’s corn crop….
The estimated surplus is down from last month’s forecast and well below levels that are considered healthy….
“We just didn’t have a good growing year,” said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. “It was too hot, too warm, too dry at the wrong time.”
… More expensive corn drives food prices higher because corn is an ingredient in everything from animal feed to cereal to soft drinks.
We are unlikely to return to sustained low food prices for a variety of reasons: