By: Sophie Theis and Elena Martinez
This piece originally appeared on the IFPRI.org blog

As the world strives to feed a growing population in the face of declining natural resources and ongoing food security crises, commitment from policymakers to a sustainable food future is more important than ever. Argentina’s G20 Presidency has set sustainability and food security as a top priority for this year’s upcoming Ministerial Meeting, and these priorities were also focus of the recent T20 (Think 20) Summit, held in Buenos Aires in September 2018.

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The FAO Food Price Index declined somewhat in September, falling 1.4 percent from August to an average of 165.4 points. This represents a 7.4 percent decline from September 2017 levels.

The challenges facing global food security continue to increase, driven by ongoing conflict and climate shocks. According to the 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report (released last week by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO), 821 million people were undernourished around the world in 2017; this represents a further rise from the 815 million estimated by the 2017 report. This troubling rise in undernourishment reverses progress seen over the past decade.

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The FAO Food Price Index remained virtually unchanged in August, although cereal prices rose as a result of declining crop prospects. At 167.6 points, the Index is around 9 percent lower than its August 2017 levels.

Hard wheat prices continued to experience excessive volatility this week, according to the Food Security Portal’s Excessive Food Price Variability Early Warning System.

Photo Credit: Falk Lademann

The FAO Food Price Index fell sharply in July, the largest such decline since December 2017. The Index dropped by around 3.7 percent month-to-month from June, as well as 3.7 percent from its July 2017 levels. The decline is driven by reductions across all sub-indices.

The Cereal Price Index fell 3.6 percent from June and 0.8 percent from July 2017. The price of wheat, maize, and rice declined in June, although maize and wheat prices crept back up toward the end of the month due to concerns over production prospects.

The FAO Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report for the second quarter of 2018 reports that 39 countries are currently in need of food assistance. Thirty-one of those countries are in Africa, seven are in Asia, and one is in Latin America and the Caribbean. Persistent conflict remain the leading driver of these needs. In addition, weather shocks have also limited food access and availability in the affected countries, in some cases severely.

Rising trade tensions drove the FAO Food Price Index down slightly in June. The 1.3-percent decline represents the first month-to-month drop since the beginning of 2018.

The Cereal Price Index fell by 3.7 percent but remains almost 8 percent higher than its June 2017 level. In June, wheat and maize prices fell sharply as a result of trade tensions, despite poor production prospects in many areas. Rice prices, on the other hand, rose based on tight supplies for some varieties.

In May, the FAO Food Price Index reached its highest level since October 2017. This month’s increase was driven by dairy and cereal prices. The Index has risen continually in 2018.

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