The world cost of food imports in 2022 will reach a new record, 1.94 trillion (million) dollars, highlights the Food Outlook report published this Friday the 11th by the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The new figure represents a 10% increase from the previous record set in 2021, although the pace of growth is expected to slow in response to rising global food prices and the depreciation of the currency against the US dollar.
Both factors weigh on the purchasing power of importers and, consequently, on the volumes of imported food, for which reason low-income countries will suffer the most, jeopardizing the ability to access food for their population.
The total food import bill for low-income countries as a whole is expected to remain broadly unchanged, so due to new and higher costs, it is also expected to decline by 10% in volume.
“These signs are alarming from a food security point of view, as they indicate that importers are experiencing difficulties in coping with rising international prices, which could herald the end of their ability to withstand rising prices”, the report states.
Food in low-income countries at risk
The analysis warns of a possible widening of existing gaps and inequality, as high-income countries continue to import the full range of food products while developing regions increasingly focus on staple foods.
In this context, FAO welcomed the approval by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of a “food shock window”, available for one year to give countries facing urgent food needs greater access to emergency financing balance of payments related to the food crisis.
The study also forecasts that the global bill for imports of inputs, including fertilizers, will increase in 2022 to 424,000 million dollars, 48% more than the previous year and 112% above the costs of 2020.
Rising energy costs and imported fertilizers are responsible for this forecast.
Food trends by products
The report forecasts world wheat production to hit a record 784 million tonnes during the 2022-2023 season, buoyed by significant crop recovery in Canada and Russia.
This circumstance should push world wheat inventories to record levels, although the analysis details that the accumulations would occur mainly in China and Russia, while in the rest of the world it is estimated that inventory levels will fall by eight per cent.
Stocks of coarse grains (barley, oats, rye, sorghum, millet and others) are forecast to fall to their lowest levels since 2013, due to reduced stocks in major countries as a result of lower production.
Thus, world production of coarse grains would decrease by 2.8% in 2022, to 1,467 million tons. Although with a probable decline during the period 2022-2023, world rice production would be maintained.
Global oilseed production is expected to recover to an all-time high in the 2022-23 season, as increased soybean and rapeseed production is expected to offset a potential decline in sunflower seed production.
World sugar production is also expected to increase, driven by a significant production recovery in Brazil and larger harvests in China and Thailand, although consumption will grow at a slower pace.
Global meat and dairy production will increase slightly in 2022, while fisheries and aquaculture production will increase by 1.2%, with a 2.6% increase in aquaculture offsetting the slight drop in capture fisheries.
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