Published on April 14th, 2008 | by Clayton
"Perfect Storm" Inflating Food Prices Worldwide
Adding to the ongoing discussion about biofuels affecting worldwide food prices (see Biodiesel Is Raising Food Prices), NPR’s Morning Addition briefly interviewed World Bank President Robert Zoellick last Friday.
Zoellick called it a “perfect storm of things coming together…” and listed 7 different issues contributing to the increasing cost of food, which led to rioting in Haiti and Egypt last week, along with a general strike in Burkina Faso:
- High energy prices (which affects production and shipping costs).
- Increase in demand from developing countries: “going from 1 meal a day to 2 meals a day” leads to an increase in the amount of food needed.
- More meat in diets in developing countries.
- Increased production of biofuels.
- Droughts in important growing regions, including Australia and Europe.
- Reduced food stocks.
- Commodities trading/futures trading: food being used as a financial instrument.
Zoellick underscored that none of these issues was solely responsible for increasing food prices, but NPR’s host Steve Inskeep pressed Zoellick on how much biofuels were contributing.
He noted that a recent report released by the World Bank seemed to indicate that biofuels were the primary issue, but Zoellick maintained that it wasn’t that simple. Rather, the “combinations of events have led to an emergency situation.” But he also said:
“Biofuels is [sic] no doubt a significant contributor. It is clearly the case that programs in Europe and the United States that have increased biofuel production have contributed to the added demand for food.”
Listen to the Morning Addition radio broadcast (only 5 minutes): World Bank Chief: Biofuels Boosting Food Prices, or see last week’s post, Biodiesel Myth (Or Fact?) #23: Biodiesel is Raising Food Prices.