According to the World Bank’s “Food Security Update,” the consumer price inflation for food items in Pakistan in February 2023 on a year-on-year basis was 45.1 per cent, which is the highest in South Asia after Sri Lanka, which experienced 54.4 per cent inflation.

The report further states that domestic grain and wheat flour prices remained volatile across South Asia at the beginning of 2023, and were well above their year-earlier levels. Specifically, in Pakistan, wheat flour prices in January 2023 reached record highs and were 20 to 140 per cent higher year on year.

The high prices of food items have been attributed to several factors, including generally stagnant production since 2018, stock losses and disrupted trade flows due to the 2022 floods, high agricultural input and transportation costs, and high headline inflation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


The report noted that India, Bangladesh, and Nepal experienced year-on-year consumer price inflation for food prices of 6.2 per cent, 7.8 per cent, and 5.6 per cent, respectively, in January 2023. Rice production increased in 2022 in several countries, including India, despite reductions in Pakistan and Tanzania, according to the report.

The US Department of Agriculture predicts a 4.5 per cent contraction in rice shipments due to a decrease in exports from Pakistan, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, which will more than offset an increase from India. Moreover, domestic food price inflation remains high around the world.

According to Brecorder, the latest month between October 2022 and February 2023, for which food price inflation data are available, shows high inflation in almost all low- and middle-income countries, with inflation levels above 5 per cent in 94.1 per cent of low-income countries, 86 per cent of lower-middle-income countries, and 87 per cent of upper-middle-income countries, with many experiencing double-digit inflation.

Furthermore, about 87.3 per cent of high-income countries are experiencing high food price inflation, and the countries affected most are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia, according to the report.