Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter objectives
Food prices are a primary indicator of the ability of a community to access food. As one of
the four elements for food security, food access has become increasingly important as world
markets are more integrated and shocks affect local markets where the food insecure live. This
chapter describes the global commodity markets and the structure of local and regional food
markets in the most food insecure nations. The drivers of local food prices are explored to
better understand the importance of climate variability and international commodity prices in
determining local food prices. The chapter provides analysis of the different ways food prices
affect rural and urban communities using conceptual frameworks that analyze how food prices
are changing within the global food system. The chapter ends with a discussion of prices in
local markets and how many current price indices fail to capture the impact of price changes
for the food insecure because they focus too much on prices of imported products in cities far
away from where these populations reside.
International corn prices and corn production variability
Corn is an important global commodity and has a significant influence on world food prices
because it is used directly for food across nearly all the regions of the world. It is also produced
for animal feed, as an industrial input and as a fuel through the production of ethanol. Because it
is so widely used, the data on corn prices are some of the most extensive spatially. The United
States produces between 30 and 40 percent of the corn exported to the world market, and over
80 percent of all corn produced in the northern hemisphere. Although the majority of this corn
is not used for food but is used in industrial processes or animal feed products, US production still
has significant impact on world corn prices. Table 5.1 shows the 2011 corn statistics for produc-
tion, consumption, imports and exports. Of the 280 million tons of corn consumed in the United
States, approximately 60 percent is used for animal feed. The US is also a primary exporter of
corn to the international market, exporting 41 million tons to countries around the world, with
the top five importers being Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the European Union and China.
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