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World Needs to Double Food Output Amid Price Shock, Chalmin Says

World food production needs to double in the next 50 years to feed the world’s growing population, said Philippe Chalmin, professor of economic history at University Paris-Dauphine.

The world’s population is forecast to jump to 9.3 billion in 2050 from an estimated 6.9 billion in 2010, requiring a 70 percent increase in food production, according to the United Nations.

The world is “having a real food crisis,” Chalmin said at the launch of a 25th annual report on commodity markets at the NYSE offices in London today. “We are definitely right now, as far as food markets are concerned, in a situation of a real price shock,” he said, adding that this was reflected in wheat, corn and soybean prices.

Supply shortages are a result of increased consumption, a lack of agricultural investment, and climatic problems, according to Chalmin. “The world food problem is acute,” he said, adding that more money needs to be put toward agriculture.

Grain supplies are likely to remain tight until the end of the year, especially corn, he said, adding that a “huge problem” could arise if it doesn’t rain in the U.S. corn belt.

Sugar prices may reach 30 cents a pound in the next few weeks, while coffee is expected to slide, he said. The outlook for cocoa remains uncertain.

“We will need to see what happens to Ivory Coast,” Chalmin said. “A part of Ivory Coast cocoa has become Ghana cocoa,” he said, referring to smuggling between the two countries during the civil unrest.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at Ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at Ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.

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