Food Prices Increasing Again

According to an article in the Guardian yesterday, it seems like food prices are on their way up again. I think this is only the beginning. Or rather, I think we are seeing an end of an era when we in the U.S. and the EU spent only a very small share of our incomes on food. It is not sustainable and these low food prices have resulted in both environmental externalities and negative impacts on health.

Over the longer-term, prices are likely to continue to increase due to increasing oil prices, climate change impacts and mitigation measures and the competition for land that this will result in, an increasing world population especially in urban areas, and changing eating habits with higher meat intake. While we in the West would prefer to continue to spend money on clothes and electronics rather than food, increasing global food prices have a very different impact on the 1.2 billion people that live on about one dollar per day, and even on poor urban populations in middle income countries. The price on bread can determine whether someone can afford heating in the winter or not. Or if a kid can go to school or must help raise income for his or her family. And since this is a small world, my worry is that this will result in increasing migration waves and political instabilities in many regions that will not remain isolated events. No doubt, this will be an important global issue for the future.

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