The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports:
The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 230 points in March 2011, down 2.9 percent from its peak in February, but still 37 percent above March last year. International prices of oils and sugar contracted the most, followed by cereals. By contrast, dairy and meat prices were up.Here are the individual components:
Also, interestingly, the very front of the NYT website this morning had a story blaming high food prices on biofuels! I've been saying this for four or five years, but it's nice to see it starting to penetrate elite consciousness in the US. Of course they led off with a bit about cassava in Thailand, apparently unable to bring themselves to focus on the biggest contributor: corn in the midwest, but still, I'll forgive them that for explicitly making the connection that food prices are contributing to misery and political instability.
Soaring food prices have caused riots or contributed to political turmoil in a host of poor countries in recent months, including Algeria, Egypt and Bangladesh, where palm oil, a common biofuel ingredient, provides crucial nutrition to a desperately poor populace. During the second half of 2010, the price of corn rose steeply — 73 percent in the United States — an increase that the United Nations World Food Program attributed in part to the greater use of American corn for bioethanol.Here's the infographic with the piece:
“The fact that cassava is being used for biofuel in China, rapeseed is being used in Europe, and sugar cane elsewhere is definitely creating a shift in demand curves,” said Timothy D. Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University who studies the topic. “Biofuels are contributing to higher prices and tighter markets.”
In the United States, Congress has mandated that biofuel use must reach 36 billion gallons annually by 2022. The European Union stipulates that 10 percent of transportation fuel must come from renewable sources like biofuel or wind power by 2020. Countries like China, India, Indonesia and Thailand have adopted biofuel targets as well.
Great stuff. The 6% number is reasonable (if I were to correct my rough estimates for DDG and sugar), I'd be about there too).