Food prices on the world market are higher than they have been in the past decade, UN food agency FAO recently reported.

According to experts, it is probably only a matter of time before groceries also become more expensive.

"If the high prices continue, this could possibly cost a family several hundred euros per year," says Koos Gardebroek, agricultural economist at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

The world market prices of, among other things, sugar, grains and vegetable oils have risen sharply in recent times.

Meat and dairy prices also rose.

Compared to a year ago, prices are on average almost 40 percent higher.

As a result, the FAO's food price index is at its highest level since 2011.

According to Gardebroek, the high prices have two causes.

"First of all, it is because the demand for food is increasing, especially because governments are allowing more and more easing because the number of corona infections is decreasing in many countries. As a result, people have also become more positive lately. You also see countries replenishing their food stocks."

A second reason is that a lot of ethanol is produced in the United States.

That is a biofuel based on corn.

"As a result, less maize remains for animal feed and food. This drives up the price. Although the increased demand for food is a more important factor than ethanol production. The supply of food is in principle okay. There have been few crop failures recently. "

“The food sector often works with long-term contracts, in which prices are fixed.”

Thijs Geijer, sector economist at ING

It is likely that Dutch consumers will not immediately notice that they are more expensive in the supermarket, thinks Thijs Geijer, who monitors the food market on behalf of ING.

"The food sector often works with long-term contracts, in which prices are fixed."

Only when contracts expire, new agreements are made and higher prices may be agreed upon.

"Companies may then pass this on to customers. But that will differ per company," says Geijer.

Prices have been high for quite some time

Prices on the world market have been rising since last autumn, says Gardebroek.

"So it is not a short-lived revival, it has been going on for a long time. I also think that the high price level will continue for a while."

"If this situation indeed lasts longer, producers will have no choice but to pass this on to, for example, the supermarkets. And they will pass it on to the consumer."

Another factor is that maize and soy, for example, are widely used in animal feed.

If the prices of these go up, so do the costs of producing meat and dairy.

"In addition, fuel prices have gone up. So the transport of foodstuffs has also become more expensive," said the agricultural economist.

He expects that there will be no sudden rapid increase in supermarket prices, but he does not rule out a slow increase in the least. "If prices go up a little bit every week or every month, it could cost a family several hundred euros a year."