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  • Russell Kallman

Food inflation is a growing problem internationally. Will it impact Australia?

Updated: May 11, 2021

Food riots have recently occurred in both Chile and Sudan (see below). Reuters reported in February 2021 that the relevant authorities were growing increasingly concerned about food inflation globally.

Yesterday, I took the time to respond to a gut-wrenching tweet from the clearly very well educated Chuba Ezekwesili on Twitter.

Of course, it was it is Twitter so I couldn't detail the causes of that supply imbalance. Floods in China, locusts and drought in Africa, more floods in South America and interrupted harvests everywhere due to Covid-19 lockdowns and enhanced safety procedures.

Here in Australia, I might get a handful of views with a tweet in Australia about food prices. In Africa, it is a topic of intense debate and passion. In Australia we prefer to engage in social media wars around house prices, utility bills, fuel, subscription services, insurance, car, and electronic purchases and yes, the price of coffee.

Yet it is apparent that the experience and our reaction to food inflation is growing more diverse within Australia as the distribution of wealth and income equality become more unequal.

The group impacted by time scarcity who can buy convenience Then there are those who have plenty of disposable income, but no time. For these people, any amount of time saved by buying convenient meals or ready-to-use ingredients is worth a large amount of expenditure. The fact food prices are going up might barely be noticed.

The group impacted by food inflation who have time such as those on welfare, elderly pensioners, and those for who the other costs have suddenly eaten up all their discretionary income. People in this group are struggling to eat well with what little money left over. Some may depend on charity; others find creative ways to save money.

The group impacted by food inflation who have no spare time such as those on minimum wage or impacted by extremely high non-discretionary living costs consuming their after-tax disposable income and leaving them no ability to easily take advantage of lower cost healthy foods that take substantial time to prepare.

This coming year is going to be ridiculously hard on the latter two groups.

Prices are going to go up on many products. That is not speculation - that is reality already locked into forward contracts already struck.

Expansive droughts in key growing regions, concentration of crops being grown for industrial purposes, labor shortages due second and third waves of covid-19 and the likelihood of more extreme flooding in other areas will significantly hamper global acreages planted and expected yields during 2021.

I hope as we head further into 2021, both Federal and State Governments will start to think creatively about food security. Perhaps learning from the food aid and bulk sourcing programs that take place in both first world and development nations.

In addition initiatives to reduce package and food waste will require creative solutions to avoid increasing ingredient costs and the convenience of meal preparation.

If you want to find out how you can help overseas or more locally in our region try the following vetted links:

We also work with smaller charities helping specific groups of people like Project Dignity – TBI Melbourne that focuses specifically on university students who are refugees.


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