Global food markets still brace for uncertainty in 2020-21 due to COVID-19 outbreak, says FAO’s Food Outlook Report

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According to a new report by FAO, food markets will face many more months of uncertainty due to COVID-19. However, the agri-food sector is expected to show more resilience amid this crisis as compared to other sectors.

“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt – at varying degrees – across all food sectors assessed by FAO. Whilst COVID-19 has posed a serious threat to food security, overall, our analysis shows that from the global perspective, agricultural commodity markets are proving to be more resilient to the pandemic than many other sectors,” said Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, Director of the FAO Trade and Markets Division.

“That said, owing to the size of the challenge and the enormous uncertainties associated with it, the international community must remain vigilant and ready to react, if and when necessary,” he added.

For some of the most traded food commodities globally, the FAO’s Food Outlook report has also provided the first forecasts for production and market trends in 2020-2021. Take a look:

Key Trends for Major Food Commodities in 2020-21


In 2020-21, the world cereal trade is expected to stand at 433 million tonnes. Despite the uncertainties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the forecasts underline a comfortable cereal supply and demand situation.


World total meat production is predicted to fall by 1.7% in 2020, owing to animal diseases, Coronavirus-triggered market disruptions, and droughts.


The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to heavily affect seafood markets this year as fishing fleets are lying idle on the supply side.

The pandemic is set to severely hit, in particular, global shrimp and salmon production. In India, for instance, farmed shrimp production is likely to fall by 30-40 per cent, as per the report.


In 2019-20, the world’s sugar production is forecast to drop for the second consecutive year. However, trade in sugar is likely to expand, thanks to stock-rebuilding in some importing countries.


Despite market disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, world milk production is showing resilience, possibly growing by 0.8 per cent in 2020.

Oil Crops

The latest forecasts for oilseeds point towards a tightening global supply-demand situation.