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World food prices rose 10% in July, pushed by Midwest drought

August 30, 2012|By Ricardo Lopez
  • Severely damaged corn stalks due to a widespread drought at sunset on a farm near Oakland City, Ind.
Severely damaged corn stalks due to a widespread drought at sunset on a farm… (Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyImages )

Global food prices jumped 10% in July from the month before, driven up by the severe Midwest drought which has pushed the price of grains to record levels, the World Bank reported Thursday.

The price of maize and wheat rose by 25% from June to July, and soybeans rose by 17%, according to the Washington-based organization.

Overall, the World Bank's Food Price Index, which tracks the price of traded food commodities, was 6% higher than July of last year.

The sharp price jumps are attributed to the Midwest drought, which has destroyed more than half of the country's corn crop. The drought, the worst in decades, has pushed the price of corn to record prices. Corn futures have jumped about 60% since the drought started in late June. They are now trading above $8 a bushel.

The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of corn and soybeans.

And that rise rise in grain prices was starkly higher in Africa, the organization reported.

In Mozambique, maize rose 113%. In South Sudan sorghum rose 220% and 180% in Sudan.

Still, despite the rising prices, the organization said it does not predict people will riot as they did in 2008 when food prices last spiked to record levels.

"We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices," said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. "Countries must strengthen their targeted programs to ease the pressure on the most vulnerable population and implement the right policies."

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ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com

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