What's Driving Food Prices?

Preface : The temperature of the rhetoric in the food-versus-fuel debate has been rising right along with the prices of corn and oil. Farm Foundation is not about heat or fueling fires. Our mission is to be a catalyst for sound public policy by providing objective information to foster deeper understanding of the complex issues before the food system today. We commissioned this paper to provide a comprehensive, objective assessment of the forces driving food prices. In recent months, much has been written in the academic and popular press about commodity prices, biofuels and food prices—often with varying perspectives and conclusions. Farm Foundation asked Wallace Tyner, Philip Abbot and Christopher Hurt, all of Purdue University, to review the literature and provide a comprehensive assessment of the forces driving food prices today. The three economists reviewed more than two dozen reports and studies, summarizing them in light of their own examination of the facts. As is true of many issues in the food system, the full story behind rapid increases in food prices is not a simple one. Today’s food price levels are the result of complex interactions among multiple factors—including crude oil prices, exchange rates, growing demand for food and slowing growth in agricultural productivity—as well as the agricultural, energy and trade policy choices made by nations of the world. But one simple fact stands out: economic growth and rising human aspirations are putting ever greater pressure on the global resource base. The difficult challenge for public and private leaders is to identify policy choices that help the world deal with the very real problems created by today’s rising food prices without jeopardizing aspirations for the future. It is the intent of Farm Foundation that the objective information provided in this report will help all stakeholders meet the challenge to address one of the most critical public policy issues facing the world today.

Issue Date:
Publication Type:
DOI and Other Identifiers:
Record Identifier:
PURL Identifier:
Total Pages:
Replaced with revised version of paper 08/01/08.
Series Statement:
Issue Report

Record appears in:

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

Download fulltext

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)