Fluctuating food prices are putting millions of people at risk

Food price spikes

After decades of progress, the number of people without enough to eat is actually increasing. It could soon top one billion. That's more than one in seven people waking up hungry and going to bed hungry. Today. In the 21st century.

Food price spikes are a big part of the problem. Because, when you spend up to 80% of your income on food – as many poor families are forced to do – even small increases can have a particularly devastating effect.

What causes food price spikes?

Failed crops – often caused by our changing climate – hit food prices hard. So does the rising cost of oil – used to grow, fertilize and transport food.

Short-sighted biofuels strategies play a part too – taking food off of people's plates and putting it into car tanks. And dysfunctional commodities markets mean that food prices go up faster and higher than they should.

But despite all these complex causes, the effects on poor people are painfully simple. Parents choose between feeding their children and feeding themselves.

Whole communities face an uncertain future, because all anyone can think about is where their next meal will come from.

It's time to grow out of food price spikes.

The way to grow

Food price spikes happen because of things like climate change and rising oil prices – so a major part of the solution involves getting those root causes under control.

But what's also needed is more effective global handling of food price crises when they do happen. That way, the poorest families have somewhere to turn even when things do get desperate – and when they suddenly can't afford even the meager amount they could afford a week earlier.

For our world to grow together, we need to get food price spikes under control.

What you can do

Feed your family and help one billion people feed themselves: The GROW Method

Related links

Here's Oxfam's analysis of 2012 food price hikes (pdf 237kb)

What a global food crisis looks like: Oxfam's food prices map

Rising food prices: Case studies from around the world