Neil Fullick and Peter Apps
January 6, 2011
(Reuters) – Record high food prices are moving to the top of policymaker agendas, driven by fears they could stoke inflation, protectionism and unrest and dent consumer demand in key emerging economies.
The United Nations’ food agency (FAO) said on Wednesday that food prices hit a record high last month, moving beyond levels of 2008 when riots broke out in countries as far afield as Egypt, Cameroon and Haiti.
In Asia, official data and analyst estimates both pointed to inflationary pressures. Chilli prices have increased fivefold in Thailand in the last year and Indonesia’s president called for households to plant food in their own gardens.
President Susilo Yudhoyono Bambang told a cabinet meeting people should be “creative” in planting, with Trade Minister Mari Pangestu leading the way in planting at home.