This page in: English | Español | عربي | Français
March 2013

Global Price Trends

The prices of internationally traded food commodities continued to fall between October 2012 and February 2013 (figure 1). Food prices have been falling for six consecutive months, but the World Bank's Food Price Index in February 2013 was only 9% below the recent all-time peak in August 2012. This means that despite sustained declines, international food prices remain very high and still close to their historical peaks.

Figure 1. World Bank Food Price Index

Source: World Bank DECPG.
Note: The Food Price Index weighs export prices of a variety of food commodities
around the world in nominal U.S. dollar prices, 2005 = 100.

Table 1. Price Change of Key Food Commodities
 Commodity Oct 2012 -
Feb 2013 (%)
Feb 2012 -
Feb 2013 (%)
  Food -4 1
    Grains -5 9
    Fats and Oils -4 1
    Other Food -3 -10
  Fertilizer -5 -7
  Maize -6 8
  Rice (Thai, 5%) 1 5
  Wheat (U.S. HRW) -11 15
  Sugar (world) -10 -24
  Soybean Oil 0 6
  Crude Oil, average 4 -4
Source: World Bank DECPG.

Prices of all the three main food categories declined during the months between October 2012 and February 2013. Prices of grains dropped by 5%, fats and oils by 4%, and other foods by 3% (table 1). In the same period, the price of internationally traded wheat declined by 11%, sugar by 10%, and maize by 6%. The price of soybean oil did not change, while Thai 5% rice prices increased by 1%.1 International fertilizer prices declined by 5% during this period, while crude oil prices rose by 4%.

The international prices of grains in February 2013 remained well above those of a year ago. (table 1). Wheat prices in February 2013 were 15% higher than in February 2012. Maize prices stood 8% higher than a year ago, and rice prices 5% higher than in February 2012. Because of declines in the prices of internationally traded sugar (24%) and soybean oil (6%), other components of the Bank's Food Price Index, the year-on-year international food price change increased by only 1%.

Lower demand in tight international cereal markets and improved conditions of current winter crops explain falling international food prices. Trade flows of wheat, maize, and rice declined in 2012 due to a combination of high prices, lower production, and lower imports of cereals from key importers.2 A sharp fall in the global use of wheat feed3 and reduced maize use for ethanol in the United States have both prevented a large increase in world cereal utilization. Favorable weather conditions have been recently reported in the European Union, the Black Sea countries (except for southern parts of the Russian Federation), China, and India. These conditions contrast with less favorable circumstances in the United States, with a protracted severe drought extended across the southern Plains.4 Looking ahead, favorable conditions for large exporters of maize in South America -- and South Africa -- should also lead to abundant supplies for the rest of 2013. As for rice, conditions are favorable for the main producers in East and South Asia, and among other southern hemisphere producers.5 Consequently, the world production of cereals for 2012-13 has recently been revised upward by both the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] and the U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA], although production remains about 3% below 2011-12 levels.6

But international prices still remain particularly vulnerable to several uncertainties.7 Global stocks of cereals dropped by 3% in 2012, mainly due to the decline in wheat stocks (by 9%) and coarse grains (by almost 6%). The global stocks-to-use ratio also declined compared to the previous season, from 22.0% to 20.6% for all cereals, although conditions are tighter for stocks of coarse grains than those of wheat.8 Major exporters' stocks-todisappearance ratios (a measure that compares stocks of cereals vis-à-vis the country's use and exports) became even thinner: 16.4% for all cereals, 13.2% for wheat, and 8.1% for coarse grains (again reflecting tighter conditions for coarse grains).9 In contrast, global stocks for rice remain much stronger.

Weather forecasts have recently improved in Brazil, but it is still too soon for conclusive supply estimates from upcoming harvests. The continued drought in the United States and dryness in Argentina, South Africa, and Australia also cast doubts over supplies in the coming months.10 In the case of rice, a drawdown in Thailand's accumulated stockpiles -- estimated at 12 million tons, equivalent to one-third of the world's total traded rice -- into international markets might have potentially destabilizing effects.11 On the demand side, China's announced increasing needs of imported grains (especially maize) augur growing competition in international markets12 at a time when other large importers -- Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, and Turkey -- are also increasing their import demands.13

Oil prices have been on the rise for three consecutive months, exceeding US$107 per barrel in February. As indicated in the November 2012 Food Price Watch (FPW), these increases have not translated into increases in fertilizer prices.14 Yet, the February 2013 price of crude oil marks its highest level since April 2012. Other uncertain factors stem from the increasing difficulty of meeting renewed mandates for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for biofuel in the United States. These mandated volumes have increased sharply, from 16.55 billion gallons in 2013 to 20.5 billion in 2015, at a time of high maize prices and reduced production in the United States following last summer's drought.15 Consequently, all these factors16 point to the need for continued efforts to monitor international food prices.

Domestic Price Trends

Domestic prices of grains continued to follow expected seasonal patterns in most regions.  Prices of staples in West and East Africa remained stable or decreased because of improved food availability resulting from ongoing or recently concluded harvests. In contrast, prices continue to rise in southern Africa during its lean season. In Central America and the Caribbean, prices also follow seasonal trends, with increases for maize, decreases for beans, and increases for imported rice as some local currencies depreciated.17 In wheat-importing countries in Central Asia, prices have stabilized at very high levels, reflecting high export prices within the region. In East and South Asia, importers have seen rice prices remain unchanged or decline because of abundant exports.18 In addition to these expected seasonal influences, a slew of domestic factors have also affected local prices. Such factors include either the depreciation or appreciation of the domestic currency; removal of fuel subsidies; implementation of public input support programs; public stockpiling or, contrarily, release of strategic reserves of food; trade disruption from conflict and increasing insecurity; increased transportation costs; increased humanitarian supplies; and erratic weather.

Table 2. Largest Variations in Domestic Prices
 Quarterly Price Movements: October 2012 - February 2013
Wheat %
Maize %
Belarus - Minsk - Wheat (flour) - Retail (Belarussian Ruble/Kg) 17 Malawi - Lilongwe - Maize - Retail (Kwacha/Kg) 43
India - Mumbai - Wheat - Retail (Indian Rupee/Kg) 14 Zambia - National Average - Maize (white) - Retail (USD/Kg) 32
Pakistan - Karachi - Wheat - Retail (Pakistan Rupee/Kg) 13 Ecuador - Quito - Maize (yellow) - Wholesale (USD/Kg) 21
Brazil - National Average - Wheat - Wholesale (Brazilian Real/Local) 13 Nicaragua - National Average - Maize (white) - Wholesale (Cordoba Oro/Kg) 20
Bolivia - La Paz - Wheat (pelado) - Wholesale (Boliviano/Local) 11 Uganda - Kampala - Maize - Wholesale (USD/tonne) 19
Moldova, Republic of - Chisinau - Wheat - Retail (Moldovan Leu/Kg) 10 Honduras - San Pedro Sula - Maize (white) - Wholesale (USD/Kg) 15
Ukraine - National Average - Wheat 3rd class (EXW processing) - Wholesale (Hryvnia/ tonne) 9 Ethiopia - Addis Ababa - Maize - Wholesale (Ethiopian Birr/Local) -8
South Africa - Randfontein - Wheat - Wholesale (Rand/tonne) -2 South Africa - Randfontein - Maize (white) - Wholesale (Rand/tonne) -14
Ecuador - Quito - Wheat (flour) - Wholesale (USD/Kg) -3 Kenya - Nairobi - Maize - Wholesale (USD/tonne) -19
Ethiopia - Addis Ababa - Wheat (white) - Wholesale (Ethiopian Birr/Local) -7 Somalia - Baidoa - Maize (white) - Retail (Somali Shilling/Kg) -44
Rice %
Sorghum %
India - Chennai - Rice - Retail (Indian Rupee/Kg) 10 Sudan - Kadugli - Sorghum (Feterita) - Wholesale (Sudanese Pound/Local) 32
Myanmar - Yangon - Rice (Emata Manawthukha FQ) - Wholesale (Kyat/Kg) 9 Niger - Maradi - Sorghum (local) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) 22
Niger - Niamey - Rice (imported) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) 8 Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Sorghum (local) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) -9
Mozambique - Maxixe - Rice - Retail (Metical/Kg) 7 Ethiopia - Addis Ababa - Sorghum (white) - Wholesale (Ethiopian Birr/Local) -17
Malawi - Lilongwe - Rice - Retail (Kwacha/Kg) 7 Somalia - Baidoa - Sorghum (red) - Retail (Somali Shilling/Kg) -53
Bangladesh - Dhaka - Rice (coarse) - Retail (Taka/Kg) 7
Somalia - Mogadishu - Rice (imported) - Retail (Somali Shilling/Kg) -6
Peru - Lima - Rice (milled superior) - Retail (Nuevo Sol/Kg) -6
Mali - Bamako - Rice (local) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) -12
Rwanda - Kigali - Rice - Wholesale (USD/tonne) -16
 Annual Price Movements: February 2012 - February 2013
Wheat %
Maize %
Belarus - Minsk - Wheat (flour) - Retail (Belarussian Ruble/Kg) 46 Russian Federation - National Average - Maize (offer EXW) - Wholesale (Russian Ruble/ tonne) 75
Brazil - National Average - Wheat - Wholesale (Brazilian Real/Local) 45 Malawi - Lilongwe - Maize - Retail (Kwacha/Kg) 47
Moldova, Republic of - Chisinau - Wheat - Retail (Moldovan Leu/Kg) 43 Haiti - Port-au-Prince - Maize (local) - Retail (Gourde/Local) 42
India - Mumbai - Wheat - Retail (Indian Rupee/Kg) 33 Zambia - National Average - Maize (white) - Retail (USD/Kg) 32
Afghanistan - Kabul - Wheat (flour) - Retail (Afghani/Kg) 33 Somalia - Borama - Maize (white) - Retail (Somali Shilling/Kg) 29
Sudan - Khartoum - Wheat - Wholesale (Sudanese Pound/Local) 32 South Africa - Randfontein - Maize (yellow) - Wholesale (Rand/tonne) -13
Ukraine - National Average - Wheat 3rd class (EXW processing) - Wholesale (Hryvnia/ tonne) 31 Mexico - Mexico City - Maize (white) - Wholesale (Mexican Peso/Kg) -13
Bolivia - La Paz - Wheat (pelado) - Wholesale (Boliviano/Local) -3 Kenya - Kisumu - Maize - Wholesale (USD/tonne) -23
Rice %
Sorghum %
India - Chennai - Rice - Retail (Indian Rupee/Kg) 55 Sudan - Port Sudan - Sorghum (Feterita) - Wholesale (Sudanese Pound/Local) 31
Mexico - Mexico City - Rice (Morelos) - Wholesale (Mexican Peso/Kg) 40 Niger - Niamey - Sorghum (local) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) 26
Brazil - National Average - Rice (paddy) - Wholesale (Brazilian Real/Local) 30 Ethiopia - Addis Ababa - Sorghum (red) - Wholesale (Ethiopian Birr/Local) 13
Malawi - Lilongwe - Rice - Retail (Kwacha/Kg) 29 Haiti - Port-au-Prince - Sorghum - Retail (Gourde/Local) 11
Myanmar - Yangon - Rice (Emata Manawthukha FQ) - Wholesale (Kyat/Kg) 26 Guatemala - Guatemala City - Maize (white) - Wholesale (USD/Kg) -15
Ecuador - Quito - Rice (long grain) - Wholesale (USD/Kg) 13 Somalia - Mogadishu - Sorghum (red) - Retail (Somali Shilling/Kg) -15
Mali - Bamako - Rice (local) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) -12 Mali - Bamako - Sorghum (local) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) -20
Niger - Agadez - Rice (imported) - Wholesale (CFA Franc /Local) -14
Uganda - Kampala - Rice - Wholesale (USD/tonne) -17
Somalia - Mogadishu - Rice (imported) - Retail (Somali Shilling/Kg) -33
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS). Currencies as originally reported by FAO.

Between October 2012 and February 2013, the largest wheat price increases (table 2) took place across monitored markets in Eastern Europe's Belarus (17%), Moldova (10%), and Ukraine (national average, 9%) due to reduced supplies and, in the case of Belarus, high inflation and easing of food price regulation.19 Large increases also took place in South American countries dependent on Argentinian exports such as Brazil (national average, 13%) and Bolivia (La Paz, 11%).20 Increases in the price of wheat in some monitored markets in Pakistan (Karachi, 14%) and India (Mumbai, 15%) reflect high government purchases and strong export demand. In contrast, wheat price reductions were limited to single-digits in some monitored markets in Ethiopia and South Africa, both due to adequate supplies, and in Ecuador, partially due to recent price controls.21 Domestic maize prices have varied more markedly, with increases of 43% in monitored markets in Malawi (Lilongwe) from production shortfalls, strong export demand from neighboring countries and depreciation of the currency,22 and in Zambia (national average, 23% increase) mainly because of seasonal factors. Large increases between 15% and 20% were observed in certain markets in Uganda as a result of increasing imports and public purchases, and in Honduras and Nicaragua due to seasonal factors.23 Decreases in maize prices reached 44% in markets in major producer areas in Somalia, and in monitored markets across Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia, all reflecting increasing supplies.24 Also between October 2012 and February 2013, rice prices increased by 10% in certain markets in India, and between 7% and 9% in some monitored markets of Bangladesh, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Myanmar. These domestic price increases reflect increases in export prices, public purchases, and increasing fuel and transportation costs. The largest declines in the price of rice were observed in the capital cities of Mali (12%) and Rwanda (16%), because of increased supplies.

Domestic price variations during the months of February 2012 and February 2013 show the usual wide range in yearly prices, with large price increases observed among key grains. The price of wheat in February 2013 was 46% higher than 12 months ago in Belarus, 45% higher in Brazil, and 43% higher in Moldova. Annual price increases exceeding 30% were observed in markets across India, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Ukraine.25 For those markets for which information was available, only the capital city of Bolivia reports a decrease in the domestic price of wheat (3%).26 Large increases in the annual price of maize have occurred in Russia (national average, 75%) and some monitored markets in Malawi (47%); in Haiti (42%), because of increased import prices from the United States and the sharp contraction in 2012 domestic production; in Zambia (32%), due to procurement programs, strong export demand, and depreciation; and in Somalia (22%), from disrupted supplies and continued appreciation of the Somali shilling.27 The price of maize went down in the last year across certain markets in South Africa, Mexico, and Kenya because of increased production. The price of rice in some monitored domestic markets in India increased 55% in the last 12 months due to high procurement volumes, sustained exports, and rising fuel prices. Large increases were also observed in some markets in Mexico (40%) and Brazil (national average, 30%) related to increased demand for high-quality Thai and U.S. rice.28 The annual rice price went down in monitored markets in Somalia by 33%, partially due to appreciation of the local currency, followed by other price drops in Uganda, Niger, and Mali of between 12% and 17%.

High Food Prices and the Epidemic of Obesity

Figure 2. Global Prevalence Rates of Undernourishment
and Obesity

Source: FAO for prevalence of undernourishment; G. Stevens, G. Singh, G. Danaei, et al., "National, Regional and Global Trends in Adult Overweight and Obesity Prevalences," Population Health Metrics 10 (22): 1-16 (2012).
Notes: For undernourishment, data for 1990 in this graph are the same as data reported by FAO for period 1990-92; data for 2002 in this graph are the same as data reported by FAO for period 2000-2002; and data for 2008 in this graph are the same as data reported by FAO for 2008-10. FAO defines prevalence of undernourishment or chronic hunger as the status of persons whose food intake regularly provides less than their minimum energy requirements. The average minimum energy requirement per person is about 1,800 kcal per day (FAO [2013] Hunger Portal).

Figure 3. Projected Obesity in Selected Areas

Source: T. Kelly, W. Yang, C. Chen, et al., "Global Burden of Obesity in 2005 and Projections to 2030," International Journal of Obesity 32: 1431-37 (2008).
Notes: LAC: Latin America and the Caribbean; SSA: sub-Saharan Africa.

Overweight and obesity constitute a global epidemic even in a world of high and volatile food prices. The prevalence and numbers of people affected by overweight and obesity have increased in the last three decades, during both periods of low and high international food prices. So as one malnutrition problem, undernourishment, is falling, others, overweight and obesity, are increasing rapidly (figure 2). In 2008, the number of overweight adults was 1.46 billion, of which 508 million were obese.29 Even conservative projections predict truly shocking numbers in the future if current trends are unabated: 2.16 billion adults might be overweight and 1.12 billion obese by 2030.30 And such increases should be expected across all regions and in countries like China and India (figure 3).

As food prices remain high and, arguably, increasingly volatile, unhealthy calories tend to be cheaper than healthy ones. This is the case of junk food in the developed world, but also of less nutritious food substitutes in poor households in developing countries coping with recurrent food (and other) crises. In fact, overweight is not an epidemic restricted to rich countries. Half of the world's overweight people live in nine countries, including the United States and Germany, but also in China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey. Regions with the highest obesity prevalence -- exceeding 25% of the adult population -- include North Africa and the Middle East, Central and South America, and southern sub-Saharan Africa.31

Policy responses so far have only partially addressed the epidemic. Responses have ranged from doing nothing to punishing overweight people by, for instance, imposing fines on employers when employees exceed certain waistline limits in Japan. Taxes, outright bans, or restrictive legislation on certain foods and ingredients along with clearer standards for food labels and awareness campaigns are attempts to veer consumers toward healthier foods. Yet, it is not evident that reducing obesity is among the top global policy priorities. Nonetheless, the current multilateral discussions on the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (along with the United Nations [UN] high-level meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases32) offer an unprecedented opportunity for integrating global and national collective action to fight all forms of malnutrition, from stunting to obesity. This integrated and collective action has, nonetheless, a tall order: it must help prevent this double burden -- triple, if micronutrient deficiencies are considered -- from increasing as the world becomes more prosperous (box 1).

Box 1: The Socioeconomics of Obesity

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and other health-related conditions ultimately associated with premature death. A recent mega study published in The Lanceta confirms that a high body mass index (BMI) is a leading global risk factor associated with death and disability. Overweight and obesity have hefty economic costs that result from increasing medical costs, absenteeism, lower productivity at work, poorer school performance, and even increasing transportation costs. In the United States, the health care costs of obesity-related illness alone are estimated to be US$190 billion per year.

Factors as diverse as culture, modern lifestyles, publicity, and the development of the individual's metabolic system at early stages of life all play a part in explaining these trends.b And so does poverty. Poverty and poor health in high-income countries have a long-standing association. But recent evidence shows that both the well off and the poor in poorer countries may have high prevalence of individuals being overweight. In any case, there are marked socioeconomic differences in overweight prevalence within countriesc and across countries (figure). Evidence also suggests that BMI increases rapidly with per capita incomes up to US$5,000, peaking between US$12,500 and US$17,000, and then eventually declining.d

Box Figure. Prevalence of Overweight by Quintiles of Wealth, (%) Selected Countries
Bangladesh (2007)
China (2006)
Egypt, Arab Rep. of (2005)
Guatemala (1998)
Haiti (2005)
Indonesia (2007)
Niger (2006)
Tanzania (2004)

Source: J. Jones-Smith, P. Gordon-Larsen, A. Siddiqi, and B. Popkin, "Cross-National Comparisons of Time Trends in Overweight Inequality by Socioeconomic Status among Women Using Repeated Cross-Sectional Surveys from 37 Developing Countries, 1989-2007," American Journal of Epidemiology 173 (6): 667-75 (2011).

a. C. Murray et al., "GBD 2010: Design, Definitions, and Metric," The Lancet 380 (9859): 2063-2066 (2012). Body mass index is the ratio of body weight in kilograms by the square of body height in meters. Overweight corresponds to a BMI between 25 and 29.9 and obesity to BMIs of 30 or plus.
b. Environmental, behavioral, physiological, and genetic influences all help explain weight and obesity. These influences include cultural factors such as the social acceptance of obesity as a sign of prosperity; modern lifestyles with increasingly less physical exertion; the influential role of publicity; and metabolic programming -- that is, the link between fetal and early infant phases of life and the subsequent development of adult obesity. In particular, it has been shown that there is a strong relationship between low birth weight and maternal undernutrition and an increased risk of hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (M. Vickers, "Developmental Programming of the Metabolic Syndrome-Critical Windows for Intervention," World Journal of Diabetes 2 (9): 137-48 [2011]; D. J. P. Barker, "Fetal Origins of Coronary Heart Disease," British Medical Journal 311: 171-74 [1995]).
c. J. Jones-Smith et al., "Cross-National Comparisons of Time Trends."
d. The decline takes place especially among women in wealthier countries. Interestingly, BMI growth is inversely related to the food share of household expenditures and proportion of urban populations (M. Ezzati, S. Vander Hoorn, C. M. Lawes, et al., "Rethinking the 'Diseases of Affluence' Paradigm: Global Patterns of Nutritional Risks in Relation to Economic Development," PLOS Medicine 2 (5): 404-12 [2005]).


1. Another export variety, Vietnamese 5% rice (not reported in table 1), saw its price sharply decline by 13% in the same period.
2. The FAO reports lower demand of wheat imports in Afghanistan, Algeria, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. It also reports declines in demand for coarse grains in Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the República Bolivariana de Venezuela (FAO, Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, March 7, 2013).
3. An exception to this fall is the sharp increase in the use of wheat feed (as a substitution for maize feed) in the United States, which is expected to be more than double that of the previous year (FAO, Brief, March 7, 2013).
4. FAO, Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, February 7, 2013.
5. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Australia are about to start or are already starting to collect their rice crops. All of them are expected to increase production with respect to the previous season (FAO, Brief, March 7, 2013). In addition to improved conditions, a strong export demand for rice from West Africa, Central Asia and China, and the Thai rice mortgage scheme have prevented international rice prices from falling despite abundant supplies and record high stocks at the end of 2012.
6. AMIS, Market Monitor, number 6, March 2013; USDA, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), March 11, 2013.
7. World Bank (2013) Commodity Market Outlook projects price declines of 3.2% for international food prices if none of these uncertainties materialize and, instead, weather conditions remain favorable, crude oil prices marginally ease, and policy responses do not upset international food markets.
8. Global stocks-to-use ratios declined from 26% to 22.9% in the case of wheat; from 15% to 13.4% for coarse grains; and increased for rice from 33.5% to 35.7% (FAO, Brief, March 7, 2013).
9. FAO, Brief, February 7, 2013, and March 7, 2013. Also, USDA reports stocks-to-disappearance ratios of 9.9% for maize and of 5.6% for U.S. maize exports (USDA, WASDE, March 11, 2013).
10. USDA, WASDE, March 11, 2013.
11. World Bank, Thailand Economic Monitor: December 2012 (2012); World Bank, Bangkok Office, Oxford Analytica, January 24, 2013. The cost of the program in 2012 may have reached about 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) and may cost about US$5 billion in 2013. Incidentally, a drawdown of Thai's stocks for export would also mean the return of the country to its long-standing position as the world's top exporter of rice, which it lost in 2012 to India and Vietnam.
12. Maize imports increased fivefold in 2011/12 to reach 5 million metric tons in 2011/12 (about 5% of total world's imports), making it the largest year on record for maize imports (USDA, WASDE, March 11, 2013). Despite being the top world rice producer, China became the second largest importer in 2011/12, up from the 20th position the year before. These developments are in addition to its longstanding position of top importer of soybean oils and other edible oils (G. Maguire, "Watch Out for China's Grain Imports in 2013.")
13. "MIST" countries (Mexico, India, Korea, and Turkey) exceeded China in 2012 as major consumer of U.S. agricultural products, spending US$29 billion for U.S. produced cops and food products (compared to US$26 billion spent by China). This increase is reportedly related to the increasing middle class and trade agreements rather than specific annual domestic production shortfalls. Interestingly, China's demand for imports is more volatile because it depends on its own production, while MIST countries' demands will be increasing over the future as their prosperity increases (G. Maguire, "Rise of 'MIST' Nations Reshapes Agriculture Exports," February 28, 2013).
14. This is in part because a number of fertilizers respond to natural gas prices (which have been weak) and not oil (World Bank, Commodity Market Outlook, Development Prospects Group [2013].
15. S. Irvin and D. Good, "The Ethanol Blend Wall, Biodiesel Production Capacity, and the RFS... Something Has to Give," February 13, 2013.
16. Other factors also add some degree of uncertainty to the markets. For example, Kazakhstan confronts a shortage of wagons to transport its crops, while Argentina and Brazil typically ship their soybean crops (expected to be a record high in Brazil this year) before wheat (Reuters, "Grain Stocks in Black Sea Countries Seen Down 55 Pct in 2012/13," December 10, 2012). In contrast with these logistic constraints (and on a positive note), fears of wheat export restrictions by Ukraine did not materialize in the last quarter.
17. FEWS NET (Famine Early Warning System Network), Price Watch, February 28, 2013.
18. FAO, Global Food Price Monitor, February 11, 2013.
19. FAO, Global Food Price Monitor, March 11, 2013; GIEWS, Country Briefs: Belarus, September 27, 2012
20. Brazil also saw its production decline in 2012 (FAO, Price Monitor, March 11, 2013).
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid.
23. In concrete, the arrival of the postrera harvests to those markets took place during late February and March (FEWS NET, Price Watch, February 28, 2013).
24. FAO, Global Food Price Monitor, March 11, 2013.
25. FEWS NET, Price Watch, February 28, 2013; FAO, Global Food Price Monitor, March 11, 2013. In Afghanistan, price increases reflect reliance on imports due to limited milled capacity, while in Sudan, they are partially explained by inflation and transportation costs. Interestingly, increases in the national average price in India have been lower than in Mumbai and other monitored markets.
26. This may be partially explained by the introduction of subsidies to bread producers in recent months (FAO, Global Food Price Monitor, March 11, 2013).
27. FEWS NET, Price Watch, February 28, 2013.
28. Ibid.
29. G. Stevens, G. Singh, G. Danaei, et al., "National, Regional and Global Trends in Adult Overweight and Obesity Prevalences," Population Health Metrics 10 (22): 1-16 (2012).
30. T. Kelly, W. Yang, C-S. Chen, K. Reynolds, and J. He, "Global Burden of Obesity in 2005 and Projections for 2030," International Journal of Obesity 32: 1431-37.
31. Stevens et al., "National, Regional, and Global Trends."
32. United Nations General Assembly, "Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases: Report of the Secretary-General" (2011).

Food Price Watch, produced by the Poverty Reduction and Equity department at the World Bank, is a series that seeks to draw attention to trends in domestic food prices in low- and middle-income countries and their policy implications. Contact: José Cuesta (