Trends in staple food prices in selected vulnerable countries- Issue No 5, Oct 2009

Report
from World Food Programme
Published on 31 Oct 2009 View Original
This bulletin provides information on price changes for the most commonly consumed staples and the potential impacts of these changes on the cost of the food basket. Staples contribute 40 - 80% of energy intake for the most vulnerable population groups in developing countries. Therefore, even a small increase in staple food prices has a high impact on overall food consumption, especially when the food basket is composed of very few staples.

The bulletin covers 60 countries over the period July to September 2009 .

Highlights:

- Overall: Prices of the main staple food commodities have stabilized or slightly decreased in most of the countries over the last three months compared to the previous quarter. However, in most of the countries, the cost of the food basket is still higher compared to their long term averages (table 3). In 47% of the countries monitored, the overall cost of the food basket is more than 20% above the 5-year averages. This is most evident in countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Pakistan, Somalia, Southern Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

- Asia: Rice and wheat prices have either remained stable or declined during the last quarter, except in Timor Leste where the price of rice and maize has increased significantly. Rice and maize make up 60% of caloric intake for households in Timor Leste. In general, prices remain significantly high in comparison to the long term averages.

- West Africa: Staple food prices remained stable in most of the countries in this region compared to the previous quarter, except for sorghum and millet in Chad and Northern Nigeria, and rice in Côte where prices have risen significantly. However, prices continue to be high compared to their long term averages, up to 150% in certain cases such as the price of sorghum in Benin.

- Southern, Eastern and Central Africa: Staple food prices remained stable or decreased in most of the countries during the last quarter. However, in Tanzania and Swaziland, prices are still experiencing significant increases. Maize prices have risen by 17% and 19% respectively; representing 33% and 26% of caloric contribution to households diet. Prices remain very high when compared to their long term averages, especially in Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia, and Zimbabwe where staple food prices are still more than double.

- Latin America and Caribbean: Staple food prices remained stable or declined in all countries over the last quarter. In fact, prices seem to be mostly returning back to their normal levels. Only Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Peru are still experiencing prices above their long term averages.

- Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe: Staple food prices were either stable or decreasing in most of the countries during the last quarter. Compared to their long term average, prices are significantly high in Palestine and Tajikistan, and can be 27% to 93% higher depending on the commodity.

- Stand-Alone Countries: Staple food prices remained stable or declined in Northern Sudan, whereas they were very high in Southern Sudan. However, compared to their long term averages, prices continue to be very high in both Northern and Southern Sudan.