The G20 is under growing pressure to call an emergency food summit after the price of essentials jumped by ten per cent on average in July.
New research shows prices are at a record high following "an unprecedented summer of droughts and high temperatures". Cereal prices were particularly hard hit, with maize and wheat rising by a quarter and soybeans by 17 per cent, as poor weather decimated harvests in the US, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, according to the World Bank. The average global food price in July stood six per cent higher than a year earlier.
"Food prices rose again sharply threatening the health and well-being of millions of people," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. "Africa and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable, but so are people in other countries where the prices of grains have gone up abruptly," he added.
The World Bank report also warned that prices could continue to rise this year. "Negative factors – such as exporters pursuing panic policies, a severe El Nino, disappointing Southern hemisphere crops or strong rises in energy prices – could cause significant further grain price hikes," the report said.
The G20 said this week that it would check the US Department of Agriculture's updated crop forecast – due on 12 September – before deciding whether to call an emergency meeting.
Colin Roche, from Oxfam's Grow campaign, said: "The G20 must call an emergency summit now before prices spiral out of control and push more people into hunger. This 'wait and see' attitude is unacceptable."
A G20 spokesman said yesterday: "So far we have not reconsidered our actions."