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Quantifying the causes of the global food commodity price crisis

Hochman, Gal, Rajagopal, Deepak, Timilsina, Govinda, Zilberman, David
Biomass and bioenergy 2014 v.68 pp. 106-114
biofuels, commodity foods, commodity prices, economic development, energy costs, inflation, inventories, models, trade policy, weather
The food commodity price inflation beginning in 2001 and culminating in the food crisis of 2007/08, and which returned in 2010, reflects a combination of several factors including economic growth, biofuel expansion, exchange rate fluctuations, and energy price inflation. To quantify these influence we developed an empirical model that also included crop inventory adjustments, a factor that is underemphasized in the literature. The study shows that, if inventory effects are not taken into account, the impacts of the various factors on food commodity price inflation would be overestimated. Although our model explains most of the price fluctuation observed in 2001–2011, it is not able to explain all of it. Other factors, such as speculation, trade policy and weather shocks, which are not included in the analysis, might be responsible for the remaining contribution to the food commodity price increase.