The world food import bill is expected to reach a record high this year, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Published on 11 November, the FAO’s new Food Outlook report examines drivers of rising prices of food commodities, freight and agricultural inputs.

While global food trade has shown “remarkable resilience to disruptions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic”, rapidly rising prices of food commodities and energy pose significant challenges for poorer countries and consumers, who spend large shares of their incomes on these basic necessities, according to the report.

The FAO said it expected the global food import bill to surpass US$1.75trn – a record level and a 14% increase compared to the previous year – due to higher price levels of internationally traded food and a three-fold increase in freight costs.

Developing regions accounted for 40% of the total and their aggregate food import bill was expected to rise by 20% compared to the previous year, the report said.

Meanwhile, developing nations are facing sharp increases in the prices of basic staples such as animal fats, cereals, oilseeds and vegetable oils, according to the report, while high-value foods, such as fruits and vegetables, were driving the bulk of the increases for developed regions.

The Food Outlook report, which is published twice a year, reviews market supply and demand trends for the world’s major foodstuffs, including cereals, vegetable oils, sugar, meat, dairy and fish. It also looks at trends in future markets and shipping costs for food commodities.

For oilseeds and derived products, FAO’s preliminary forecasts for the 2020/21 season pointed to some improvements in the overall supply situation while their respective end season stocks could remain below average.