World Food Import Bill Set to Reach Record Amid Soaring Costs

·1 min read

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s food-import bill is expected to climb to an all-time high this year, with the soaring cost of staples hitting poor nations particularly hard and threatening to fuel global inflation.

The cost of importing food is set to rise by 12% to $1.72 trillion, led by increases in grains, vegetable oils and oilseeds, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said in a report Thursday. Developing countries face a 21% jump in the total bill, compared with a 6% increase for the richest ones, according to a provisional forecast.

The latest UN data confirms the impact of soaring costs on consumer pockets and how some of the poorest import-dependent countries will be hardest hit. Global food prices have surged for the past 12 months to reach the highest in almost a decade in May and freight costs have risen too. At the same time, many less-developed nations have experienced a sharp fall in their local currencies, undermining their ability to buy food on international markets.

“With worsening macroeconomic fundamentals, the fiscal capacity of already vulnerable countries to import is becoming critical,” the Rome-based FAO said.

As in 2020, which set the existing record for food imports, volumes are expected to be “robust” this year as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic won’t dent global demand for foodstuffs, the FAO said.

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