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G20 to Address Rising Food Prices

a grocery aisle in Korea
a grocery aisle in Korea
Flickr/John Rohan

How long has it been since you thought groceries were cheap? Everyone has noticed the increase in food prices, and now the G20, a group composed of the heads of state of 20 of the world's largest economies, is poised to do something about it.

According to a Reuters report, the G20 has made the control of world food prices a high priority. France, which holds the G20 chair for 2011, has taken the lead on the food problem, and aims "to find a collective response to 'excessive volatility' in prices of food." The importance of this initiative to France as well as the world is underscored by the recent riots in Algeria, which officials are blaming on the high cost of food, as well as unemployment.

Reuters also reports that prices of items such as meat and sugar have skyrocketed to the highest levels in recent memory. In Indonesia, chili prices have quintupled in the past year, which has led to an increase in inflation. Onion prices in India are also up, and there is a history of protests related to onion prices in that country. Brazilian bean and Mexican tortilla prices have risen as well.

Rice, one of the most important foods worldwide, appears to be something of a mixed bag, so to speak. Major rice exporter Thailand has assured the world that its production will remain steady, though not everyone appears to believe that, and several countries are keeping extra stock just in case.

As for food prices on the whole, venture capital firm Emergent Asset Management (which owns "swathes of land across southern Africa") has a warning. "The world is still in denial about food prices" says their chief investment officer, who cites demographics, production, and climate change in suggesting that the cost of food will continue to rise. That's an ambiguous and scary statement from a shadowy-sounding company, but it is nice to know that the G20 is on the case.


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