The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that food prices have risen to a record high in the month of January.
The FAO Food Price Index, which measures the wholesale price of basic foods within a basket, averaged 231 points last month, up by 3.4% from December.
January is the seventh month to continue to rise for the index.
FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian said: “These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come.”
The index is now at its greatest level since the FAO began the measure in 1990 and higher than June 2008 when the cost of food ignited violent protests in countries including Cameroon, Haiti and Egypt.
The individual group components of the index, apart from meat, all registered rises in January.
Flooding in Australia has caused the Cereal Price Index averaged 245 points in January reflecting rises in the price of wheat and grain.
Rice prices declined slightly as the data coincided with harvests in many countries.
Rises were particularly high for dairy products, up 6.2% from December. Prices were driven higher by a combination of lower supply and increasing demand in emerging economies such as China and India.
The Meat Price Index remained the same at 166 points despite falling prices in Europe where a large amount of animal feed was found to have been contaminated with dioxin.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick has asked global leaders to “put food first” and tackle the problem of price volatility.
“We are going to be facing a broader trend of increasing commodity prices, including food commodity prices,” he said.