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 Price volatility in agricultural markets

Price fluctuations are a common feature of well-functioning agricultural product markets. But when these become large and unexpected – volatile – they can have a negative impact on the food security of consumers, farmers and entire countries. Since 2007, world markets have seen a series of dramatic swings in commodity prices. Food prices reached their highest levels for 30 years during the summer of 2008, collapsing the following winter, before rapidly rising again in the months that followed. Food prices today remain high, and are expected to remain volatile.

Second Ministerial meeting on international food prices
7 Oct 2013, FAO Headquarters, Rome
The meeting will provide a forum for the exchange of views and sharing of experiences between ministers concerning food price volatility and the policy problems it poses.
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Ministerial meeting on food price volatility
16 Oct 2012, FAO Headquarters, Rome
By sharing experiences and knowledge, this Ministerial Meeting will contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of measures to address food price volatility and to reduce its impact on the most vulnerable populations who spend as much as 70-80 percent of their incomes on food.

High-level event on food price volatility and the role of speculation
6 July 2012, FAO Headquarters, Rome
This high level event was intended to begin a process that would lead to more definitive, in depth examination and monitoring of the issue by the international community and in particular the question of speculation and its impact.

Key publications

Proceedings of the second ministerial meeting on international food prices
FAO held a second Ministerial Meeting on International Food Prices on 7 October 2013. Although prices of cereals and oilseeds on international markets have fallen from the peaks reached in July 2012, they remain high and vulnerable to supply shocks. There are, therefore, continuing concerns about the challenges posed by food prices for global food security.

Price volatility from a global perspective
July 2012
Technical background document for the high-level event on food price volatility and the role of speculation. High and volatile agricultural commodity prices are likely to persist and continue to challenge the ability of consumers, producers and governments to cope with the consequences.

Inter-Agency Report to the G20 on food price volatility
The preparation of this report, coordinated by FAO and OECD, has been undertaken in a truly collaborative manner by FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD,WFP, the World Bank, the WTO, IFPRI and the UN HLTF. The report was submitted to the French Presidency of the G20 on 2 June 2011.

Price volatility and food security
July 2011
This report contains the analysis and recommendations of the High Level Panel of Experts as approved by its Steering Committee at its meeting held in Amsterdam on 12-13 July 2011 and is now being presented to the CFS.

Safeguarding food security in volatile global markets
This four-part volume gathers together the latest thinking on the issues and controversies surrounding price volatility in global food markets. Drawing from theory, empiricism and heuristic evidence, the book contributes to the debate on the causes, consequences, and challenges of food price volatility.