For two decades, leading up to the millennium, global demand for food increased steadily, along with growth in the world’s population, record harvests, improvements in incomes, and the diversification of diets. As a result, food prices continued to decline through 2000. But beginning in 2004, prices for most grains began to rise. Although there was an increase in production, the increase in demand was greater.
Food stocks became depleted. And then, in 2005, food production was dramatically affected by extreme weather incidents in major food-producing countries. By 2006, world cereal production had fallen by 2.1 percent. In 2007, rapid increases in oil prices increased fertilizer and other food production costs.
As international food prices reached unprecedented levels, countries sought ways to insulate themselves from potential food shortages and price shocks. Several food-exporting countries imposed export restrictions. Certain key importers began purchasing grains at any price to maintain domestic supplies.
High Level Task Force on Global Food and Nutrition Security
The dramatic rise of global food prices and the crisis led the United Nations (UN) Chief Executives Board in April 2008 to establish a High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. Composed of 23 key members of the UN system, it is chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The primary aim of the Task Force is to promote a comprehensive and unified response of the international community to the challenge of achieving global food and nutrition security.
Progress continues in the fight against hunger, yet an unacceptably large number of people still lack the food they need for an active and healthy life.
Hunger in numbers
The latest available estimates indicate that about 795 million people in the world – just over one in nine – were undernourished in 2014–16. That means one in nine people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.