Global food prices soar to new record in March

FILE PHOTO –  South Sudanese refugees seen carrying a bag of 50KG food supply from the distribution point at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement. /Getty Images

Global food prices are surging at the fastest pace ever as the conflict in Ukraine continues to choke crop supplies.

The fighting has wreaked havoc on supply chains in one of the world’s most important food-producing regions, and fuels panic about shortages of key staples such as wheat and cooking oils. All that has sent food prices — which were already surging before the conflict started — to a record, with a United Nations’ index of world costs soaring another 13 percent in March.

Cost increases stemming from the war and resulting sanctions on Russia will, unless action is taken, push more than 40 million additional people into extreme poverty, according to an analysis published last month by the Center for Global Development, a non-profit think tank whose funders include Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation warned in March that food and feed prices could rise by up to 20 percent as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, triggering a jump in global malnourishment.

The agency also cut its estimate of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tonnes on Friday from a forecast of 790 million last month as it factored in the possibility that at least 20 percent of Ukraine’s winter crop area would not be harvested.