This paper is a summary of the behaviour of food commodity prices in 2007–2008 and a review of the causes of the price increases, extracted from a report to the Chief Scientific Advisor to Her Majesty’s Government [Thirtle, C., Piesse, J., 2008.AnExplanatory Review of the World Food Commodity Price Events of 2007–2008.
AReport to the Chief Scientific Advisor. Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, London]. The historical background shows that the price spikewasmuchless severe than in the 1970s. The conventional wisdom
that prices of the main food commodities were falling prior to 2006 is questioned. Most ceased falling and were quite stable from the 1980s. The paper separates the causes of the spike from the underlying
changes driving the long run trends. The literature on the causes of the spike is critically reviewed and summarised.
There is a reasonably broad consensus on most of the causes, but much less on the impact of the depreciation of the US Dollar. There are also concluding speculations on the future.