Rome: Global food import bill to hit a new record high in 2023, with a reduction in import volumes for the most vulnerable countries. Production prospects across most basic foodstuffs are favourable. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ Food Outlook, a biannual publication, predicts declining international trade in some basic foodstuffs.
The latest Food Outlook offers updated forecasts for the production, trade, utilization and stocks of major food staples, and also offers a compendium of major policy developments in the food commodity sector since mid-May, 2023. It stated that extreme weather events, rising geopolitical tensions, and sudden policy changes pose risks for global food production systems and could potentially tip delicate demand-supply balances and dampen prospects for trade and global food security.
According to the report, trade volumes in coarse grains and rice are expected to decline in 2023-24, even as global maize output is forecast to post a significant increase driven by increased plantings in Brazil and the United States of America. World trade in vegetable oils and fats is also expected to dip modestly, while global production and consumption are anticipated to expand. Moreover, trade volumes are expected to decline in the coming year for sugar, dairy products, meat and fish as well.
World food import bill
The Food Outlook also updates FAO’s global food import bill estimates in 2023, forecast to reach US$2 trillion in 2023, some US$35.3 billion or 1.8 per cent higher than in 2022.
Fruits and vegetables along with beverages and sugar account for the bulk of the increase, the lion’s share of which is driven by high-income and upper-middle-income countries. Low-income countries, by contrast, are expected to see an 11 per cent contraction in their aggregate food import bill.
Those developments often reflect world price trends, as international quotations for fruits, vegetables and sugars have surged while those for animal and vegetable oils have declined during the year. Nonetheless, the volume effect on the global food import bill is predicted to exceed the price effect, although not for high-value or processed products such as coffee, tea, cocoa and spices.
Food import bills of the least developed countries, net food-importing developing countries and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contract due in part to lower quantities, suggesting that additional factors – ranging from weakening currencies to mounting debt levels and high freight costs – are impeding their ability to access international food markets.
The report also offers a piece on domestic price developments in net food-importing developing countries. It analyses the trends of the FAO Global Food Consumption Price Indices, which assess changes in prices in terms of average global caloric and protein intakes.
– global bihari bureau