What’s going on with the Price of Food?

By Arielle Salvary

Over the last couple of months, you may have been making your regular trips to the grocery and noticed that each time the prices of your purchases were increasing substantially. You may be wondering why that is…the answer is inflation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Price Index, which is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, food prices have climbed to record highs. Inflation has now become a global issue which is threatening to further put pressure on household budgets. Naturally causing the poorest people to feel this pinch the most, especially in countries that are reliant on food imports like Trinidad and Tobago.

T&T’s Central Bank Monetary Policy Report noted that food inflation is expected to continue rising in the short term (Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, 2021).  Experts are unsure of when this food price hike will end, FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian said, “While normally high prices are expected to give way to increased production, the high costs of inputs, the ongoing global pandemic and ever more uncertain climatic conditions leave little room for optimism about a return to more stable market conditions even in 2022” (FAO, 2022).

So why are food prices on the rise? For one, recent surges in energy prices have affected costs related to crop-based biofuels which are necessary to produce fertilizers as well as fuel which farmers are dependent on. “This could potentially force cutbacks on farm inputs particularly in developing nations, which may increase reliance on crop imports if harvests falter,” which was noted by Josef Schmidhuber, Deputy Director for Markets and Trade at the UN’s FAO (Durisin, 2022)

Increased demand as economies around the world have reopened has been another contributing factor as output and supply chains struggle to keep up. The state of the current global supply chain is said to be a disaster, the shipping industry is overwhelmed and there’s a shortage in containers. This is hampering the transport of products because of the continuous delays and bottlenecks which are affecting supply and causing prices to rise. In Trinidad and Tobago, there have been significant increases in the cost to clear containers, which has trickled down to the consumers as suppliers can no longer afford to absorb these costs. 

Weather conditions as well as geo-political tensions also have a role to play in these price hikes. A significant period of dry weather has affected South American soy fields and Brazil has also seen adverse weather conditions which has impacted their sugar production. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also caused disruptions with regards to the supply of Black Sea grain shipments.

Moreover, these present conditions are resulting in the massive rises in the price of food and as mentioned earlier, experts are unsure when these increasing costs will be curbed. This should be of significant concern to Trinidad and Tobago and other countries who have a large appetite for food imports. Many people who have been seriously impacted by this crisis have already noted that they are no longer able to afford to eat three meals per day. This situation is and will continue to increase the cost of living and subsequently poverty rates locally and around the world.


Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, 2021. Monetary Policy Report. [online] Port of Spain: Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, p.2. Available at: <https://www.central-bank.org.tt/sites/default/files/reports/monetary-policy-report-november-2021.pdf&gt; [Accessed 21 February 2022].

Durisin, M., 2022. World Food Prices Are Climbing Closer Toward a Record High. [online] BloombergQuint. Available at: <https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/world-food-prices-are-climbing-closer-toward-a-record-high&gt; [Accessed 21 February 2022].

PRD-Newsroom. 2022. Global food prices dip in December. [online] Available at: <https://www.fao.org/newsroom/detail/FAO-Food-Price-Index-december-2022/en&gt; [Accessed 21 February 2022].