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Food-Price Gains May Lift Aid Costs, World Food Programme Says

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Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Rising food prices may increase the cost of providing hunger relief, the United Nations’ World Food Programme said.

Prices in local markets, where it seeks to buy as much food as possible, are still below the peaks of 2008, the Rome-based UN agency said on its website today. Still, local prices are “high” compared with “longer-term” averages, the WFP said.

World food imports will exceed $1 trillion this year, near the record level in the food-crisis year of 2008, on surging commodity prices, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said today. The FAO’s world food-price index climbed last month to the highest level since July 2008.

“Half of WFP’s food is purchased with cash donations, so higher prices have a direct effect on how far our donor dollar can go,” Nancy Roman, director for communications, public policy and private partnerships at the agency, said in a statement.

Corn has jumped 31 percent this year in Chicago trading, wheat is up 25 percent and soybeans have added 17 percent.

Next year’s harvests will be “crucial” in determining whether food prices will continue to rise in 2011, the WFP said. “Continued rises could increase pressure on the hungry poor and at the same time raise the cost of providing food assistance,” the agency said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.

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