Food Prices

OWID presents work from many different people and organizations. When citing this entry, please also cite the original data source. This entry can be cited as:

Max Roser (2016) – ‘Food Prices’. Published online at Retrieved from: [Online Resource]


# Empirical View

# Wheat prices in constant 1996 pounds, 1264-1996 – Max Roser1

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# Wages in the manufacturing sector vs. several food prices in the USA, 1901-2002 – BLS Data2


# Index of real corn and wheat prices, 1866-2008 – Sumner (2009)3

Index of real corn and wheat prices, 1866–2008 – Sumner (2009)0


The FAO Food Price Index (FPI) is a measure of the international prices of food (e.g., between suppliers or nations), while the food consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of the price of food to the actual consumer. The following graphs show that “the FPI translate to higher consumer prices only to a very limited degree and with a time lag of a few months.” The lag is often due to the time needed to harvest, transport and process food to the consumer. The limited relationship in the magnitude of the two indices “is explained by a combination of factors that determine vertical price transmission in every food economy, including mark-ups for transportation, processing and marketing, and by any subsidies at the consumer level.”4

# Global food consumer price index (CPI) & FAO food price index (right-hand scale), 2001-2013 – FAO (2013)5




Global Food CPI & FAO Food Price Index (right-hand scale) (2001-2013) – FAO (2013)0

# Correlates, Determinants & Consequences

# Correlation coefficients between % yield and % price inverted, 1211-1491 – Campbell6

Correlation Coefficients between yield and price inverted (1211-1491) – Campbell0

# Data Quality & Definition

# FAO Food Price Index

“The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. It consists of the average of five commodity group price indices [cereal, vegetable, dairy, meat and sugar], weighted with the average export shares.”7

# Data Sources

# Historical Statistics on Food Prices

# Food Price Data by David Jacks
  • Data: David Jacks an expert in agricultural history publishes many food price series on his website.
  • Geographical coverage: Many countries and regions around the world
  • Time span: Some of the series go back to the Middle Ages but most start after 1800.
  • Available at: David Jacks personal website here and here.

# Food Price Data by Nicholas Poynder
  • Data: Monthly grain prices
  • Geographical coverage: Different places in England
  • Time span: 1270-1955
  • Available at: The website of the International Institute of Social History here.

# Data on Food Prices in Recent Decades

# FAO – Food and agricultural price statistics
  • Data: Food prices of over 200 commodities for primary crops, live animals and livestock – “representing over 97 percent of the world’s value of gross agricultural production” (FAO). Producer prices and producer and consumer price indices.
  • Geographical coverage: Over 130 countries.
  • Time span: The up-to-now series go back to 1991, whilst the Price Archive contains historical data from 1966 to 1990 (these series are not always comparable). Monthly and annual data.
  • Available at: The FAO Food and Agricultural Price Statistics are online here.

# FAO – Food Price Level Index

# FAO – GIEWS Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
  • Data: Database with over 1170 series of prices of different food commodities
  • Geographical coverage: Over 80 countries – often several cities within the same country
  • Time span: Some series going back to 1990
  • Available at: the FAO here.

# Famine Early Warning System (FEWS)
  • Data: FEWS publishes country-by-country Price Bulletins that provide graphs tracking the prices of commodities that are important locally.
  • Geographical coverage: on a small scale level within countries.
  • Time span: mostly the recent past.
  • Available at:
  •  FEWS was created in 1985 by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

# International Coffee Organization (ICO)
  • Data: Data on coffee prices, coffee trade, coffee consumption and more is available from the International Coffee Organization (ICO).
  • Geographical coverage: Global
  • Time span: From 1990 onwards.
  • Available at: