Lockdowns and panic food buying due to the coronavirus pandemic could ignite world food inflation even though there are ample supplies of staple grains and oilseeds in key exporting nations, a senior economist at FAO and agricultural analysts said. “All you need is panic buying from big importers such as millers or governments to create a crisis,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“It is not a supply issue, but it is a behavioral change over food security,” he told Reuters. “What if bulk buyers think they can’t get wheat or rice shipments in May or June? That is what could lead to a global food supply crisis.” The global benchmark Chicago wheat futures rose more than 6% this week, the biggest weekly gain in nine months, while rice prices in Thailand, the world’s 2nd largest exporter of the grain, have climbed to the highest since August 2013.