This short memo summarizes issues linking the COVID-19 pandemic and food prices. There is a real risk of a food price crisis emerging as a result of the pandemic, for the following reasons:
- Food systems are facing a complex set of demand and supply shocks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This includes increased demand due to hoarding versus decreased demand due to containment measures; lower prices for food system inputs, such as petroleum, versus decreased supply due to disruption of production, transport and trade.
- There seems to be a risk that rice, and possibly wheat, see a price surge which disconnects them from the downward trend in other basic commodities.
- There is also undoubtedly a risk that specific countries and large urban settlements see sharp increases in prices of scarce commodities, as protests in Afghanistan and in Nigeria have already shown this week.
The crisis is coming just as farmers in many parts of the world are about to begin planting, and action is therefore needed now.