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Food prices set to soar as the world runs short of workers


Food prices set to soar as the world runs short of workers

The massive global labour shortfall is not only curbing supplies but also pushing food prices up

Fabiana Batista, Megan Durisin and Sybilla Gross

Across the world, a dearth of workers is shaking up food supply chains. 

In Vietnam, the army is assisting with the rice harvest. In the UK, farmers are dumping milk because there are no truckers to collect it. Brazil’s robusta coffee beans took 120 days to reap this year, rather than the usual 90. And American meatpackers are trying to lure new employees with Apple Watches, while fast-food chains raise the prices of burgers and burritos.  

Whether it’s fruit pickers, slaughterhouse workers, truckers, warehouse operators, chefs or waiters, the global food ecosystem is buckling due to a shortage of staff. Supplies are getting hit and some employers are forced to raise wages at a double-digit pace. That’s threatening to push food prices — already heated by soaring commodities and freight costs — even higher. Prices in July were up 31% from the same month last year, according to an index compiled by the UNs’ Food and Agriculture Organisation...

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