The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. For the seventh consecutive month, the index rose, leading to an all-time high in January, 2011. The cost of sugar, cereals, dairy, and oils and fats all went up last month, while meat prices remained steady.
CNN cites the “growing wave of civil unrest across the Middle East and North Africa” as one of the causes for the increase, which are of “major concern especially for low-income food deficit countries that may face problems financing food imports, and for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food.” Unrest is initiated not only by high unemployment rates and income and wealth inequality, but also by sharp rises in food and commodity prices. U.S. economist Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, claims the primary threats toward global stability are rapidly rising oil, energy, and food prices.