The World Trade Organization's (WTO) Global Trade Outlook, released in April, estimated that food prices worldwide surged by 18% last year, with grain costs rising by 21% and fertilizer prices skyrocketing by 63% YoY.
While higher food costs could theoretically lead to increased agricultural production and availability of food, the WTO warned that more expensive fertilizers could result in reduced crop yields and further price spikes. The organization also highlighted the strong fluctuation of food prices in 2022, which initially rose by 19% following Russia's military operation in Ukraine before dropping by 15% between May and December.
Despite global food supplies being less precarious than feared during the Ukraine crisis, the WTO warned that they remained a cause for concern, and global trade is expected to remain under pressure from external factors in 2023, including geopolitical tensions and inflation. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on developed economies to remain vigilant and to lift export restrictions on food and fertilizers to avoid triggering hunger in poorer nations.