Food campaign news
Flippin' bankers push up pancake prices
Press release, 07.03.2011
People making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday will face higher prices of key ingredients, such as flour, milk and sugar, as prices have sky rocketed to a new record high on the global markets.The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation last week announced that prices had risen to a new record high. According to the UN FAO's food price index, prices have risen for the 8th consecutive month to the highest since the index was started in 1990. The index consists of a basket of key commodities such as wheat, milk, meat and sugar. The index is widely watched by economists and politicians around the world as the first indicator of whether prices will end up higher on shop shelves in their own countries.
In response to these price rises, anti-poverty campaigners, the World Development Movement argue that banks and hedge funds are helping to drive up the price of food to record levels through reckless speculation on basic foods such as wheat and sugar. Wheat prices have increased by 60 per cent in the last year and the campaigners say that this is being fuelled by speculation because, despite drought and fires affecting harvests, there is no global shortage in the supply of wheat.
On International Women’s Day, the campaigners are also pointing out that higher food prices are hitting women around the world hardest. Women are more likely to live in poverty, as in sub-Saharan Africa women only own about 1 per cent of land, yet they produce 80 per cent of the food. Research shows that the impacts of higher food prices on women mean that they are more likely to go without food in order to feed their children, which negatively affects their own health. And in the developing world, if a family is poor, it often decides to take the daughter out of education, as the school fees could go towards paying for the soaring price of food.
Murray Worthy, policy officer at World Development Movement said:
"The record food prices that we are seeing at the moment are affecting everyone. In the UK, the pleasure of pancake day will be a little less enjoyable as families feel the pinch of higher price for the key ingredients; while those in developing countries, women especially, are struggling to afford enough to food to properly feed their families.”
"These higher food prices are being fuelled by the greed of bankers who are speculating on essential foods to make a quick buck. Food isn’t an asset; it is fundamental to human life. The UK government should be backing calls at the G20 to regulate this shadowy speculation, but instead are dragging their heels whilst women are going hungry."
Notes to editors
The UN FAO announced a 2.2 per cent increase in February's food price index
Recently, at a joint press conference, Director-General Jacques Diouf of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the French Agriculture Minister, Bruno Le Maire called financial speculation on food both economically dangerous and morally unacceptable. http://www.wdm.org.uk/press-release/un-and-french-government-call-urgent-action-record-food-price
Wheat prices have increased by 60 per cent in the last year http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12638085
For more information on the impacts of higher prices of food on women, please see Section 2.4 – Food : http://www.wen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Gender-and-the-climate-change-agenda-21.pd