Record high food prices could spark social unrest according to experts

Kristen Walters

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We've all felt the pinch in our pocketbooks at the supermarket lately as the price of essential food items like meat, produce, and grain-based products such as pasta, bread, and cereals have skyrocketed. Even cat food is hard to come by these days.

However, according to the food price index report released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization on Thursday, food prices have now reached an all-time record high since 2011.

The causes of the recent food price increase are numerous and complex, from supply chain issues to increases in energy costs, to labor shortages. Not to mention harsh weather that has killed off many crops in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States.

We essentially have a perfect storm of elements that have combined to create a dismal economic situation of food shortages and price increases both in the U.S. and abroad.

The difficult reality is that these food price increases tend to affect lower-income families and communities the most where many are already spending 50% or more of their income on food alone. When food starts to become scarce or unaffordable, it can prompt political and social unrest as we witnessed in Egypt and Lybia during the 2011 global food price increases.

According to the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Maurice Obstfeld, there is "a lot of cause for worry about social unrest." When a number of adverse circumstances come together, the risk of social and political uprising increases as well.

While U.S. economists are hopeful that supply chain issues will soon start to correct course due to recent positive jobs reports which signal an increase in hiring, if existing conflicts, such as the situation at the Ukraine border worsen, it could cause supply chain problems to worsen as well and send food prices even higher in the coming months.

Have you noticed food shortages and price increases in your community?

Let us know in the comments.

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