Food Is Getting Expensive in Developing Nations, Including 76% Increase in Price of Rice

This isn’t good.

For Cleanne Brito Machado, like millions of people in developing countries around the world, shopping for staple foods such as rice, beans, oil or potatoes now means making hard choices.

The 41-year-old maid in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, said:

“The shopping cart is getting much smaller and we’re paying much more.  We’ve had to give up on little trips, visiting family at the weekend, and we haven’t been able to save any money for emergencies or to have in the bank.”

A mix of currency depreciation, rising commodity prices and coronavirus disruptions saw food inflation soar 14% last year in Latin America’s largest economy – the biggest increase in nearly two decades. The headline figure masks hikes in staples, such as a 76% jump in rice or a doubling of soy oil prices.

Other developing countries from Turkey to Nigeria also recorded double-digit jumps in food inflation. Major wheat and corn exporters such as Russia or Argentina have introduced curbs or taxes to preserve domestic stockpiles, exacerbating pressures elsewhere.

United Nations data showed food prices hit six-year highs in January after rising for eight consecutive months.

The unwelcome return of food price pressures has put policymakers and investors on high alert, worried about what it means for inflation more broadly while economies are still reeling from the coronavirus crisis.

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