Global food prices hit a record high last month as the UN warned that oil price hikes caused by the unrest in North Africa could force costs to spiral even more.
Rising food prices are a fast-growing global problem, partly fuelling the protests which toppled the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt in January and February.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Food Price Index hit its second straight record last month, further passing peaks seen in 2008 when high prices driven by rising grain costs and tighter supply sparked riots.
David Hallam, director of the FAO's trade and market division said further jumps in the oil price would have an impact on food markets, which have seen U.S. wheat prices soar 60 per cent in the year to March.
He said: 'Unexpected oil price spikes could further exacerbate an already precarious situation in food markets.'
Oil prices recently high two and a half year highs, nearing records set in 2008, and markets fears that North African and Middle East unrest would choke key supplies.
Farmers depend on fuel to run agricultural machinery, while dry bulk shippers are heavy oil users, costs which are passed on to food buyers.
Spiralling shipping costs for commodities threaten to drive food inflation even higher as nations from Asia to the Middle East and Africa scramble for supplies, analysts say.
The FAO, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket composed of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 236 points in February, the record in real and nominal terms, up 2.2 percent from January’s record and rising for the eighth month in a row.
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