Rising food costs contributed to riots across North Africa and the Middle East in the last several months that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. Prices surged as bad weather ruined crops from Canada to Australia and Russia banned grain exports after its worst drought in a half century.
World food prices rose to a record in February and grain costs may continue to rise in the next several months, with only rice keeping the world from a repeat of the crisis three years ago, the United Nations said.
An index of 55 food commodities rose 2.2 percent to 236 points from 230.7 in January, the eighth consecutive gain, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said today. Wheat rose as much as 58 percent on the Chicago Board of Trade in the past 12 months, corn gained 87 percent and rice added 6.5 percent.
“I’ve never loved rice more than now,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the FAO in Rome. “Probably rice is the commodity which is separating us from a food crisis.”