Global Food Prices Hit 10-Year High After May Spike

Off the Charts: The Visual Says It All

Caucasian farmer crouching in field checking crop.
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Steve Smith/Getty Images

No matter where you live or what you eat, you’re likely spending a lot more on food this year. And in May you shelled out even more, with month-to-month prices globally growing the most they had in nearly 11 years.

The FAO Food Price Index, a measure of international food prices compiled by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, grew by 4.8% between April and May, the largest month-on-month gain since October 2010, according to a report released last week. After its 12th consecutive increase, the index now rests at its highest value since September 2011. The chart below shows just how much food prices have skyrocketed in the last 12 months.

A familiar story is driving the price increases: low supplies have collided with surging demand to create an environment where it’s more expensive to buy just about everything. Prices in all five groups tracked to calculate the Food Price Index rose last month, with oils (7.8%), sugar (6.8%), and cereals—things like corn, barley, and wheat—(6%) accounting for most of the jump. Meat and dairy, meanwhile, had price index increases of 2.2% and 1.5%, respectively.

Higher inflation has arrived in recent months as demand for items returns and the world economy attempts to emerge from the pandemic. Global inflation rose to its highest level since October 2008 in April, while the preferred measure of inflation in the U.S. hit a 28-year high the same month. The Federal Reserve, which is responsible for tracking inflation in the U.S., hasn’t talked about steps for reining in the economy yet—but might be getting there.