Preços Globais dos Alimentos atingem Novo Recorde

The Real Agenda
9 Fevereiro, 2011

Preços globais dos alimentos atingiram seu maior nível já registrado em janeiro e vão continuar a subir durante meses, a agência alimentar da ONU disse nesta quinta-feira, alertando que os países mais afectados poderão enfrentar turbulência.

O aumento dos preços dos alimentos têm sido citados entre as forças motrizes da recente turbulência no norte da África, incluindo o Egito e a queda do presidente da Tunísia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

E em seu último levantamento, a Agencia das Nações Unidas para Alimentação e Agricultura informou que seu índice, que acompanha as variações mensais de preços de uma variedade de alimentos básicos aumentou em média 231 pontos em janeiro – o maior desde que os registros começaram em 1990.

“Os novos dados mostram claramente a pressão ascendente sobre os preços mundiais dos alimentos. Esses preços elevados tendem a persistir nos próximos meses “, disse o economista e especialista da FAO Abdolreza Abbassian em um comunicado.

O índice subiu 3,4 por cento de dezembro – com grandes aumentos, especialmente os produtos lácteos, cereais e o petróleo. Os aumentos mais significativos foram na China, Índia, Indonésia e Rússia, os dados mostraram no relatório mensal da FAO.

“Há muitos fatores que podem causar distúrbios no país e a comida é uma delas”, disse Abbassian, observando, contudo, que vários países têm melhorado sua gestão dos preços após uma série de revoltas em 2007 e 2008 .

“Eles aprenderam a partir de episódios anteriores”, disse ele, acrescentando porém: “Estes são, obviamente, tempos muito difíceis. Agora há esperança de que os preços regressem aos níveis que podem ser considerados normais, mas somente no verão.”

Dados da FAO, sediada em Roma mostraram que os preços dos produtos lácteos aumentaram 6,2 por cento em dezembro, óleos e gorduras aumentaram 5,6 por cento, enquanto os cereais subiram 3,0 por cento devido à redução da oferta mundial de trigo e milho.

“O aumento de preço é devido à forte demanda de exportação em relação ao mês passado e preocupações sobre a oferta apertada de trigo de alta qualidade. O mercado também foi apoiado pelos preços do petróleo e um dólar fraco”, a FAO disse.

Os preços da carne mantêm-se estáveis devido à queda dos preços na Europa como resultado do susto no mês passado pelo envenenamento de dioxinas nos ovos e carne suína na Alemanha, compensado por um ligeiro aumento nos preços de exportação no Brasil e dos EUA.

“Os preços elevados dos alimentos são de grande preocupação, especialmente para países de baixa renda com déficit de alimentos que podem ter problemas financeiros e tenham que realizar importações de alimentos para as famílias pobres que gastam grande parte de sua renda em comida”, disse Abbassian.

A agencia Global Relief Agency, disse: “Milhões de vidas estão em perigo.”

“Os pobres nos países em desenvolvimento gastam entre 50 e 80 de sua renda em alimentos, pelo que os preços mais altos e preços imprevisíveis são uma séria ameaça à sua capacidade de comer”, disse a Oxfam em comunicado .

Oxfam culpou os aumentos de preços na redução da produção devido ao mau tempo, o encarecimento do petróleo, o que torna o preço dos fertilizantes e o transporte mais caro, maior demanda por biocombustíveis, as restrições a exportação e a especulação financeira.

Ele exortou os governos a implementar programas de proteção social para os mais afetados pelo aumento dos preços e ajudar a controlar os preços “cada vez mais apoio aos investimentos na agricultura em pequena escala.”

Dados da FAO mostram que o índice de preços dos alimentos atingiu os 200 pontos durante o ano de 2008, no auge da crise alimentar 2007/2008. Ele passou desse nível pela primeira vez em outubro de 2010, com 205 pontos.

Na África, a Somália tem sido particularmente afectadas pela subida dos preços do sorgo e do milho vermelho, devido à má colheita em 2010, enquanto a Uganda tem visto um aumento no preço do milho devido à forte demanda dos países em desenvolvimento vizinhos.

Enquanto isso, a agitação na Costa do Marfim tinha ajudado a elevar os preços na África Ocidental devido a seu status como um centro de transportes chave, disse ele.

No entanto, os aumentos mais dramáticos ocorreram na Ásia, particularmente Bangladesh, China, Índia, Indonésia e China, disse.

World food prices hit record high: UN agency

AFP
February 3, 2011

World food prices reached their highest level ever recorded in January and are set to keep rising for months, the UN food agency said on Thursday, warning that the hardest-hit countries could face turmoil.

Rising food prices have been cited among the driving forces behind recent popular revolts in north Africa, including the uprising in Egypt and the toppling of Tunisia’s long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

And in its latest survey, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said its index which monitors monthly price changes for a variety of staples averaged 231 points in January — the highest level since records began in 1990.

“The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come,” FAO economist and grains expert Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement.

The Index rose by 3.4 percent from December — with big increases in particular for dairy, cereal and oil prices. The rises were most significant in China, India, Indonesia and Russia, data from FAO’s monthly report showed.

“There are a lot of factors that could spark turmoil in countries and food is one of them,” Abbassian said, pointing out however that several countries have become better at managing prices after a series of riots in 2007 and 2008.

“They have learnt from previous episodes,” he said, adding however: “These are obviously not very easy times. There is now no hope that prices will return to anything we can consider normal, at least until the summer.”

The data from the Rome-based FAO showed that prices for dairy products rose by 6.2 percent from December, oils and fats gained 5.6 percent, while cereals went up by 3.0 percent because of lower global supply of wheat and maize.

“The increase in prices follows stronger export demand during the last month and concerns about tightening supplies of high quality wheat. The market was also supported by higher oil prices and a weaker US dollar,” FAO said.

Meat prices remained broadly stable due to a fall in prices in Europe caused by last month’s scare over dioxin poisoning in eggs and pork in Germany, compensated by a slight increase in export prices from Brazil and the US.

“High food prices are of major concern especially for low-income food deficit countries that may face problems in financing food imports and for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food,” Abbassian said.

Global aid agency Oxfam said: “Millions of people’s lives are at risk.”

“Poor people in developing countries spend between 50 and 80 percent of their income on food, making higher prices, as well as unpredictable prices, a serious threat to their ability to eat,” Oxfam said in a statement.

Oxfam blamed the price rises on reduced production due to bad weather, increased oil prices making fertilizer and transport more expensive, increased demand for biofuels, export restrictions and financial speculation.

It called on governments to implement social protection programmes for the people hardest hit by the price rises and to help control prices “by increasing support and investments in small scale agriculture.”

The FAO data showed the Food Price Index hit 200 points over the whole of 2008 at the height of the 2007/2008 food crisis. It breached that level for the first time in October 2010 with 205 points.

In Africa, Somalia has been particularly hard hit by a rise in prices for red sorghum and maize due to a poor 2010 crop, while Uganda has seen a rise in the price of maize because of strong demand from neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile ongoing unrest in Ivory Coast had helped push up prices in West Africa as a whole because of its status as a key transport hub, it said.

But the most dramatic rises were seen in Asia and in particular in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and China, it added.

World Food Prices Rise to Record on Sugar, Meat Costs

Bloomberg

World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.Sugar Cane

An index of 55 food commodities tracked by the Food and Agriculture Organization gained for a sixth month to 214.7 points, above the previous all-time high of 213.5 in June 2008, the Rome-based UN agency said in a monthly report. The gauges for sugar and meat prices advanced to records.

Sugar climbed for a third year in a row in 2010, and corn jumped the most in four years in Chicago. Food prices may rise more unless the world grain crop increases “significantly” in 2011, the FAO said Nov. 17. At least 13 people died last year in Mozambique in protests against plans to lift bread prices.

“There is still, unfortunately, the potential for grain prices to strengthen on the back of a lot of uncertainty,” Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said by phone from Rome today. “If anything goes wrong with the South American crop, there is plenty of room for them to increase.”

White, or refined, sugar traded at $752.70 a metric ton at 11:53 a.m. on NYSE Liffe in London, compared with $383.70 at the end of June 2008. Corn, which added 52 percent last year on the Chicago Board of Trade, was at $6.01 a bushel, down from $7.57 in June 2008. Soybeans were at $13.6325 a bushel, against $15.74 at the close of June 2008.

Demand From China

The cost of food climbed 25 percent from a year earlier in December, based on the FAO figures, after Chinese demand strengthened and Russia’s worst drought in a half-century devastated grain crops. The agency’s food-price indicator rose from 206 points in November.

Last month’s year-on-year rise compares with the 43 percent jump in food costs in June 2008. Record fuel prices, weather- related crop problems, increasing demand from the growing Indian and Chinese middle classes, and the push to grow corn for ethanol fuel all contributed to the crisis that year.

“In 2008 we had rapid increases in petroleum prices, fertilizer prices and other inputs,” Abbassian said. “So far, those increases have been rather constrained. It doesn’t really reduce the fear about what could be in store in the coming weeks or months.”

New York-traded crude was last at $88.44 a barrel, compared with $140 at the end of June 2008. Bulk urea pellets, used in fertilizer as a source of nitrogen, were at $320 a ton in the last week of December, against $460 in June 2008.

9.1 Billion People

Global food production will have to rise 70 percent by 2050 as the world population expands to 9.1 billion people from about 6.8 billion people in 2010, the FAO has said.

In response to the 2008 crisis, countries from India and Egypt to Vietnam and Indonesia banned exports of rice, a staple for half the world. Skyrocketing food prices sparked protests and riots in almost three dozen poor nations including Haiti, Somalia, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

Sugar and oilseeds have a disproportionate effect on the FAO’s food index because it’s based on trade values for commodities, Abbassian said. The price of staples including rice is lower than in 2008, he said. Rough rice last traded at $13.90 per 100 pounds in Chicago, compared with $20.21 at the end of June 2008.

“If you want to see the index as a barometer of food crisis, I’m not so sure this is the right thing to do,” Abbassian said. “In the previous episode, really the main driver in food commodities was cereals. This time around, look at sugar and oilseeds.”

Grain Inventories

Compared with 2007-2008, many poor countries had “good or above-average” cereal harvests last year, the economist said. Production problems took place in grain-exporting countries, and “supply at hand should be adequate,” he said.

The FAO’s gauge for sugar prices reached 398.4 points last month, increasing from 373.4 in November. The meat-price index rose to 142.2 points from 141.5.

The agency’s cereal-price index jumped to 237.6 points in December, the highest level since August 2008, from 223.3 the previous month. The indicator for cooking oils advanced to 263 points, the highest since July 2008, from 243.3. The index for dairy prices rose to 208.4 points from 207.8.

Global grain output will have to rise at least 2 percent this year to meet demand in 2011-2012 and avoid further depletion of stocks, the UN agency has said.

The basis for the FAO index is 2002-04. The gauge includes commodity quotations that the agency considers representative for international food prices.

“The real uncertainty and problem is the 2011-2012 market,” Abbassian said. “We are at a very high level. If it’s further up than this, then you really begin to be concerned.”