World's Poor Paying More for Less Food: UN

It's not just the Ukraine war.
Photo/s: AP/Aaron Favila

PARIS -- Poor countries are expected to suffer the most from worldwide food crises exacerbated by the war in Ukraine as they will be forced to pay more for less food, the United Nations warned on Thursday.

The global food import bill was on course to hit a new record of $1.8 trillion (about P95.7 trillion) this year as the Ukraine conflict pushes up cereal and grain prices.

But it was higher prices and transport costs rather than volumes that would account for the bulk of the expected increase, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization wrote in its latest Food Outlook. 

READ: How Much of Your Food Spending Goes Back to Farmers?

"Worryingly, many vulnerable countries are paying more but receiving less food," the report said.

The FAO calculated that the global food import bill was projected to rise by $51 billion from 2021, of which $49 billion reflected higher prices. 

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The least developed countries were anticipated to see a 5% contraction in their food import bill this year.

But sub-Saharan Africa and net food-importing developing countries were "expected to register an increase in total costs, despite a reduction in imported volumes", the agency said.

World production of major cereals was expected to decline in 2022 for the first time in four years, while global utilization was also seen down for the first time in 20 years, the FAO said.

With soaring input prices, weather concerns, and increased market uncertainties stemming from the Ukraine war, the forecasts "point to a likely tightening of food markets and food import bills reaching a new record high", said FAO economist Upali Galketi Aratchilage. 

"These are alarming signs from a food security perspective, indicating that importers will find it difficult to finance rising international costs, potentially heralding an end of their resilience to higher prices." 

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