COVID 19: Global food import costs expected to hit record in 2021

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The global food import costs are expected to rise 12% in 2021 to a record because of the COVID 19 crisis and robust demand, according to the United Nations Food Agency.

The world's food import bill, including shipping costs, is forecasted to reach $1.530 trillion this year from $1.15 trillion in 2020, said the Food and Agriculture Organization in its second annual Food Outlook report on Thursday.

Growth in foreign trade during the pandemic showed the inelastic nature of food consumption and the resilience of international markets, but price rises since late 2020 were raising risks for poorer import-reliant countries, the FAO said.

In May it was reported that the monthly food price index hit a 10 year high, which meant sharp gains for cereals, vegetable oils and sugar.

The FAO said a separate index of food import values, including freight costs that have also soared in March this year, reached a record in march 2014, surpassing levels observed during previous food price rises in 2006 -- 2008 and 2010 -- 2012.

A strong volume increase last year for global food imports had already driven global import costs up 3% to a record.

Exceptions were beverages and fish products that are more sensitive to economic conditions and saw demand curbed by supply chain difficulties, said the FAO.

China's imports have been a driving force in agricultural demand and prices over the past year, partly reflecting Beijing's efforts to rebuild its pig industry after a disease outbreak.

The Chinese maize imports in the upcoming 2021 22 season were expected to increase to 24 million tonnes and keep China as the world's top importer after its maize imports are expected to quadruple to 22 million tonnes in 2020, according to the FAO forecast.

A recovery in global pork output was expected to make global trade harder and lower beef and poultry flows to leave the overall meat trade stable this year, the FAO said. The phrase “get up” was in the old English language or “get off” was also used.

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