Food price spikes

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

Share this story:

In the last year, international food prices have reached record peaks. In many countries, high food prices have contributed to unrest, instability, violence and increasing inequality and poverty. While volatile food prices impact everyone, the impacts vary across the globe with the poorest and most vulnerable people often getting the shortest end of the stick.

To shed more light on the impacts of food price spikes, Oxfam has created an interactive map of Food Price Volatility Pressure Points. This map shows the impacts of price spikes in some of the countries where food prices have complicated the lives of poor people and offers a chance to take action on to help address price volatility.

The map shows are areas that are highly vulnerable to price spikes, countries that have had extreme weather events contribute to global price hikes and places that have seen price spikes contribute to violence or unrest that has shaken the foundation of global stability. While this map alone does not tell the full story of how price spikes have impacted our world, it offers a global snapshot to give us a better understanding of what is happening in communities near and far.

Get Adobe Flash player

Put this map on your website or blog

Copy and paste the code below to add this map to your own site.

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="600" height="447" data="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/test/map/flash/map55-ENGLISH.swf"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/test/map/flash/map55-ENGLISH.swf" /> <param name="quality" value="high" /> <param name="bgcolor" value="#000" /> <param name="play" value="true" /> <param name="loop" value="true" /> <param name="wmode" value="window" /> <param name="scale" value="showall" /> <param name="menu" value="true" /> <param name="devicefont" value="false" /> <param name="salign" value="" /> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain" /> <param name="FlashVars" value="link=http://act.oxfamamerica.org/site/PageNavigator/GROW_Pledge.html?utm_source=FoodMap" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <!--[if !IE]>--> <object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/test/map/flash/map55-ENGLISH.swf" width="600" height="447"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/test/map/flash/map55-ENGLISH.swf" /> <param name="quality" value="high" /> <param name="bgcolor" value="#000" /> <param name="play" value="true" /> <param name="loop" value="true" /> <param name="wmode" value="window" /> <param name="scale" value="showall" /> <param name="menu" value="true" /> <param name="devicefont" value="false" /> <param name="salign" value="" /> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain" /> <param name="FlashVars" value="link=http://act.oxfamamerica.org/site/PageNavigator/GROW_Pledge.html?utm_source=FoodMap" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <!--<![endif]--> <a href="http://www.adobe.com/go/getflash"> <img src="http://www.adobe.com/images/shared/download_buttons/get_flash_player.gif" alt="Get Adobe Flash player" /> </a> <!--[if !IE]>--> </object> <!--<![endif]--> </object>

What causes food price spikes?

Failed crops—often caused by our changing climate—hit food prices hard. So does the rising cost of oil—used to grow, fertilize and transport food.

Short-sighted biofuels strategies play a part too—taking food off of people's plates and putting it into car tanks. And dysfunctional commodities markets mean that food prices go up faster and higher than they should.

But despite all these complex causes, the effects on poor people are painfully simple. Parents choose between feeding their children and feeding themselves.

Whole communities face an uncertain future, because all anyone can think about is where their next meal will come from.

It's time to grow out of food price spikes.

The way to grow

Food price spikes happen because of things like climate change and rising oil prices—so a major part of the solution involves getting those root causes under control.

But what's also needed is more effective global handling of food price crises when they do happen. That way, the poorest families have somewhere to turn even when things do get desperate—and when they suddenly can't afford even the meager amount they could afford a week earlier.

For our world to grow together, we need to get food price spikes under control.