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The Unimportance of “Low” World Grain Stocks for Recent World Price Increases


  • David Dawe

    (Agricultural Development Economics Division Food and Agriculture Organization Italy)


Beginning in 1999/2000, global stock to use ratios for the major cereal grains declined rapidly, and just before the beginnings of the world food crisis in the second half of 2006 these ratios had reached their lowest levels in more than 20 years for all of the three major grains (rice, wheat, and maize). Most of the decline was driven by stock drawdowns in China, however. The declines in stock to use ratios for the world without China were much less rapid and the ratios did not reach particularly low levels before, or even during, the world food crisis. Although China’s demand does influence world markets, it makes sense to analyze the stock data without China because China is a relatively small player in world grain markets and because China’s stock management does not appear to influence or be influenced by world market trends. These observations suggest that stocks did not have an important effect on the evolution of the world food crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • David Dawe, 2009. "The Unimportance of “Low” World Grain Stocks for Recent World Price Increases," Working Papers 09-01, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
  • Handle: RePEc:fao:wpaper:0901

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Derek Headey & Shenggen Fan, 2008. "Anatomy of a crisis: the causes and consequences of surging food prices," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 375-391, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kavallari, Aikaterini & Gay, Hubertus & Burrell, Alison M., 2010. "Eu Biofuel Policies: A Closer Look At Some Collateral Impacts," 14th ICABR Conference, June 16-18, 2010, Ravello, Italy 188099, International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR).
    2. Teresa Serra & José M. Gil, 2013. "Price volatility in food markets: can stock building mitigate price fluctuations?," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 507-528, July.

    More about this item


    Stocks; food prices; food crisis.;

    JEL classification:

    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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