POST Online Media Lite Edition


Global food trade poised for resilient year ahead

Christian Fernsby |
Global food trade is poised for a resilient year ahead even as international food commodity prices are set to remain high amid supply and demand uncertainties, according to a new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Article continues below

The report notes that trade flows continued to reach new highs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, on a global level, trade in agricultural products - particularly less-perishable foods - performed more robustly than the broader merchandise sectors.

That has contributed to drive FAO's provisional forecast for the world food import bill in 2021 to $1.72 trillion, a 12 percent increase from its previous high of$1.53 trillion in 2020.

However, rising prices raise concerns that higher outlays may still mask deteriorating quantitative and qualitative dietary trends in vulnerable countries.

Food Outlook, issued twice a year, offers a detailed assessment of market supply and demand trends for the world's major foodstuffs, including cereals, vegetable oils, sugar, meat and dairy and fish. It also looks at trends in futures markets and shipping costs for food commodities.

Among its findings, measured by the FAO Global Food Consumption Price Indices, is that the average worldwide consumer price of protein in May 2021 was 23 percent above its May 2020 level. Calories, in prices, meanwhile, were up 34 percent year-on-year and hit their highest level since February 2013. The difference reflects stronger price rises for wheat, coarse grains and vegetable oils compared to meats, dairy products and fish.

World output of the major food commodities is expected to increase in the year ahead, with the exception of sugar, which is forecast to decline for the third consecutive year and fall short of global consumption, pointing to the need to run down inventories.

The market outlook for oilseeds and their derived products appears tight, with resumed production growth foreseen insufficient to satisfy world demand.

World supplies of wheat and rice are robust, while stocks of coarse grains are forecast to fall despite an expected record 2021 global production, reflecting large-scale utilization foreseen for livestock feed and industrial starches.

Expected global year-end stock-to-use ratios are, respectively, 38.0 percent for wheat, above the five-year average, stable at 35.1 percent for rice, and declining to 20.8 percent for coarse grains.

World meat output in 2021 is forecast to expand by 2.2 percent, to 346 million tonnes, reflecting an anticipated rebound in meat production in China, where expansions are expected across all meat types, especially pig meat, facilitated by high investments in the value chain and efforts to control the spread of African swine fever.

World fish output is expected to rebound and price rises are likely, due to recovering demand from restaurants after a year of restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes that pandemic-related restrictions catalyzed a shift in sales trends benefiting small pelagics, such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel, as well as tuna.

At the global level, food and agricultural exports grew by almost $52 billion in 2020 from the year before, a 3.2 percent annualized expansion, with developing countries accounting for around 40 percent of the increase.

And in 2021, prospects are for the value of global agricultural trade, measured by exports, to increase by 8 percent, or $137 billion. Much of that growth reflects demand from East Asia, although the composition of the import basket there is expected to change significantly due in large part to the recovery of China's livestock sector.

The ratio of agricultural trade to non-agricultural trade reached almost 11 percent in early 2020, only a third of its level in the 1960s but nearly double its historic low in 2007.

Rising food imports as a share of all imports can be an early warning indicator for potential crises in some areas. For example, the import bills of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) appear set to increase by 20 percent, five times as fast as the group of Least-Developed Countries. Countries where export revenues, including from tourism, have been hit hard by the pandemic, may be particularly vulnerable.

Lastly, the Food Outlook explores an innovative way of measuring food prices paid by importers that also takes into account the way demand trends change, often as a result of income shifts, and covers a broader array of foodstuffs than the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI).

The FFPI is built on benchmark export prices for key commodities, while the new measure uses Import Unit Values that capture what countries actually pay when they import food, which includes not only freight costs but also quality premia or discounts. The new index is based on flexible weights and hence captures the changing composition of imports.

As a result, the IUV index offers insight into shifts that consumers who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic may have made, such as moving from meat to cereals, beef to chicken, or Basmati to ordinary rice. It reached its historical peak in March 2021, the last data point available.

What to read next

Poorest countries face growing burden from cost of importing food
65% of UK consumers expressed concerns about imported food
USDA offers new resource to help food hubs

Berlin plans to plant 500,000 trees in autumn

500,000 young deciduous trees are to be planted in Berlin's forests this autumn.


Unite: Mini nuclear reactors must be UK designed and built after Sunak net zero speech
United Natural Foods Q4 sales increased 2.0%
Gibson Les Paul Supreme returns
Imprisonment or unlimited fine or both for snares and glue traps in Wales


U.S.: Locally heavy rain and rough surf for coastal locations

Earthquake magnitude 6.1 jolts off central Indonesia, no potential for tsunami
U.S.: Weather pattern cool and wet over next few days
Libya orders 8 officials arrested after flood disaster
Gas leak causes explosion in Iran's Bandar Abbas refinery
More than 2,200 people seek medical help after dust storm in Iran


Mexican goods worth $1 billion stuck at U.S. border amid migration checks

Construction of wind farm worth $75m will start soon in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Federal spending in Pakistan must go down, says World Bank
UKHSA announces new UK based vaccine deal
Writers and Hollywood studios reached deal to end strike
Chinese cars worth $6,000 sold in Iran for $60,000

Trending Now

Canary Islands reject governmental plan to import potato from other parts of UK

Over 50 avian influenza cases confirmed in South Africa

Ireland: Minister Heydon launches new livestock simulators

Epiphone launched Joe Bonamassa 1963 SG Custom


Igdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline will contribute to Europe's energy supply, says Erdogan

Italy: Government OKs 1.3bn for families
Eurasian Economic Commission extends antidumping duties on seamless stainless steel pipes from China, Malaysia
Ukraine and Canada sign updated free trade agreement
Iowa Governor announces drop in corporate tax rate again
UK signs sixth U.S. state deal with Washington State

Today We Recommend

U.S. announces $1.4 billion for 70 projects that will improve rail safety


Up to €1.7 billion for Solaria’s renewable energy rollout in Spain, Italy and Portugal

Lyon Shipyard creating 134 new jobs in Norfolk, Virginia

Enovis to acquire LimaCorporate for 800 million euros


FTC and 18 states sues Amazon for illegally maintaining monopoly power

Lada cars will be produced in Ethiopia for African market
Gatwick cuts number of daily flights to 800 due to staff shortage for medical reasons including COVID
Epiphone launched Joe Bonamassa 1963 SG Custom
BiH: Sarajevo Airport will build solar power plant worth $1.3m
Medibank data breach costs $46.4 million


65 Equity Partners appoints two senior partners

Krank appoints David McCarthy as global head of sales
Lithium Energi Exploration appoints Jason Nalewanyj as CFO
High Liner Foods appoints Paul Jewer as interim CEO
BP CEO resigns over personal relationships with colleagues, Auchincloss new interim CEO
Norgine appoints Saulo Martiniano as COO


Acute slowdown in agricultural output price in EU rises

S&P improves Pennsylvania’s rating outlook to ‘positive,’ affirms A+ long-term rating
Ukraine's GDP grows by 19.5% in Q2
Spain's economy grows 0.5 pct in Q2
Slow growth for Taiwan
Canadian economy set for another quarter of limited growth


KB Home Q3 revenues $1.59 billion

FedEx Q1 profit $1.08 billion
Darden Restaurants Q1 profit $194.5 million
General Mills Q1 profit $673.5 million
AutoZone Q4 profit $864.84 million
LightInTheBox Q2 revenues increased by 44.9%


Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?


Ireland: Minister Heydon launches new livestock simulators

Canary Islands reject governmental plan to import potato from other parts of UK
Over 50 avian influenza cases confirmed in South Africa
Kyrgyzstan bans flour, wheat exports for six months
Illegal fishing: Commission identifies Trinidad and Tobago as non cooperating country
Wisconsin: Rock County deer farm confirmed with CWD


Handsome bank CEOs can earn a million more than their less attractive colleagues

Investors less likely to sell losing stocks when entire portfolio is at loss
How managers can encourage employees to share their best ideas
More than 50% of software leader roles will explicitly require oversight of generative AI
Gartner survey: Half of candidates accepted job offer and backed out before starting
Educational bootcamps can help people switch careers, says study


Deutsche Bank subsidiary DWS to pay $25 million for anti-money laundering violations and misstatements

Portugal: Lisbon Court of Appeal confirms infringement by Super Bock sanctioned by AdC
Commission re-imposes €376.36 million fine on Intel for anticompetitive practices in market for computer chips
Goldman Sachs to pay SEC $6 million in penalties for providing deficient blue sheet data
Commission fines defence company €1.2 million in cartel settlement
SEC charges Aras Investment Business Group in Ponzi scheme targeting Spanish speaking U.S. investors



Iconic Buffalo Roundup in South Dakota

Urban(R)Evolution, celebration of graffiti art
151 room Taj the Trees hotel opens in Mumbai
Festival of films made by kids returns to Blatimore, Md.
World's glass blowing artists will come to Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival
Cous Cous Fest in Sicily, make cous cous not war


Indian Chief, homage to glory days of American motorcycling

Ares Modena S1 is real take on Corvette
Toyota to launch new Century in Japan
Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, pure beauty with 750 hp
Grand Soleil 40, fast and responsive boat
Zenvo Aurora, Danish miracle with turbocharged V12 engine


Yves Delorme, luxury linen for kings and you

Graff, obsession with perfection
Ballerina kitchens, the dance of style and function
Big ideas for small interiors
How to choose colors for your walls
Vintage chairs to embellish any room


Tecno Phantom flip phone, great device you shouldn't touch

HP Spectre Foldable PC, interesting laptop but $5000 for it is way too much
Deutsche Telekom Fairphone 5, sustainable and ethical smartphone you can repair yourself
Canon MS-500, ultra sensitive camera for professionals
Nikon Z 8, full frame mirrorless camera for professionals
Reed Muse 3A turntable, good design and even better music


Japan approves its first Alzheimer's drug

Aerobic and strength exercise can support better brain health in your 80s and 90s
Rhode Island suicide and crisis line calls increase by more than 50% since 988 launch
Pakistan bans Roche cancer drug pending probe into patients' blindness
Cambodia confirms first case of Zika infection since 2016
European Commission approves Menarini Group's ORSERDU (elacestrant)


Radio signals reveal secrets of hidden supermassive black holes

French airship to fly around the world nonstop without fossil fuels
Astronomers discover newborn galaxies with James Webb
Hidden ocean source of CO2 on Jupiter moon Europa
China builds first antenna for world's largest radio telescope array
James Webb and ALMA capture core of most distant galaxy protocluster