The future of food output and prices

The annual Agricultural Outlook for the next ten years has just been published jointly by the OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Click here and here for audio presentations of the report by the FAO’s Jacques Diouf and the OECD’s Angel Gurría.

The report argues that world recovery will raise agricultural prices. This will be partly the direct result of higher demand and partly the result of higher prices of agricultural inputs, such as fertilisers and fuel. But prices will not rise back to the peak levels of 2007/8. These higher prices, however, would have a positive effect on world food output, especially in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). This, in turn, would limit the price rises.

So is this good news for food producers and consumers? The following articles look at the issues

Economic upturn, energy to lift farm prices-FAO/OECD Reuters, Gus Trompiz (15/6/10)
Higher average farm prices expected, food security concerns persist, say OECD and FAO FAO Media Centre (15/6/10)
Food commodity prices to rise Financial Times, Javier Blas (15/6/10)
Price increases fuel fears of food ‘crises’ Financial Times, Javier Blas (15/6/10)
Emerging economies ‘to enjoy food production boom’ BBC News (15/6/10)
Rising crop prices can be ‘good news’ for farmers: UN/OECD MSN News, Malaysia (15/6/10)
Food prices to rise by up to 40% over next decade, UN report warns Guardian (15/6/10)
Wheat, oils and dairy prices to stay up 40% for next decade, FAO, Jess Halliday (15/6/10)
Food prices could soar up by 40 per cent in next decade, UN report warns UN News Centre (15/6/10)

Report and data
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019: portal page OECD and FAO
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019: Highlights OECD and FAO
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019: Database OECD and FAO
Commodity prices Index Mundi


  1. Explain what is likely to happen to food prices. What are the explanations given in the report?
  2. Represent the analysis on a supply and demand diagram (or diagrams).
  3. What is the relevance of (a) income elasticity of demand, (b) price elasticity of demand, (c) cross-price elasticity of demand, (d) price elasticity of supply, in explaining the likely future movements of food prices and why some food prices are likely to rise faster than others?
  4. What factors are likely to impact on the production of food in developing countries?