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Despite generally stable food commodity prices, the cost of food imports will reach $1.413 trillion this year - a six per cent rise from the previous year and the second highest figure on record, the United Nations said on Thursday.
Pricier food imports will impact the world's least developed and poorest countries the most, causing double-digit increases in their food import bills, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's newly published Food Outlook report.
Increased international demand for most foodstuffs is driving up import bills, as well as higher freight rates, according to the report.
"Higher bills do not necessarily translate into more food being bought by them as the cost of importing has greatly escalated," said FAO economist Adam Prakash.
The higher import costs come at a time when inventories are robust, harvest forecasts are strong and food commodity markets remain well supplied, said FAO, whose headquarters are in Rome.
The food commodity outlook, issued twice a year, takes a close look at the markets of key food categories, including cassava, the livestock and dairy sectors, fish, vegetable oils and the main cereal grains.