World food prices climbed 2.2 percent to reach record highs in February, surpassing the previous record set in January, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. The increase marked the eighth-straight month of rising food costs and put the food price index at its highest level since its creation in 1990. Grain prices are expected to rise even higher in the coming months, with only the relatively low price of rice keeping a repeat of 2008’s global food crisis at bay.
“In the face of growing demand and a decline in world cereal production in 2010, global cereal stocks this year are expected to fall sharply because of a decline in inventories of wheat and coarse grains,” the agency said.
Analysts warn that spiking oil prices, a result of the political turmoil in Libya that has curtailed production in that country, could exacerbate the situation.
In addition, cocoa prices reached a 32-year high on the ICE Futures U.S. in New York, due to dwindling levels of exports from the Ivory Coast. The recognized winner of the country’s presidential elections, Alassane Ouatarra, imposed a monthlong ban on all cocoa exports in January in an attempt to oust the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, from office. He extended the ban at the end of February.