Wheat Price Volatility: Panic is Baseless, Hurts Poor People, Says IFPRI

"Apparent similarities between today's rising wheat prices and the food-price crisis of 2007-2008 are just that: apparent, not real," says Maximo Torero, director of markets, trade and institutions at the International Food Policy Research Institution (IFPRI).

"Apparent similarities between today's rising wheat prices and the food-price crisis of 2007-2008 are just that: apparent, not real," says Maximo Torero, director of markets, trade and institutions at the International Food Policy Research Institution (IFPRI). Suggestions to the contrary serve to drive up prices and hurt poor people, who spend much or most of their incomes on food, he says. They need neither jittery markets nor ad hoc protectionism, which has exacerbated past food crises, Torero adds. He says the situation today is different in a number of ways: 

  • We are able to cope with lost production better than we did two years ago.
  • Bad weather — a perennial wildcard in agriculture and commodity markets — has not hit all producers across the globe.
  • According to the latest food price index compiled by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, for all the recent talk of runaway wheat prices, the effect on prices has been minimal.
  • In order for world wheat prices to drive up the price of bread, they would have to stay high for a prolonged period.
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