Costs rose to record levels in June 2008 but sank as the global economy fell into the grips of a recession. With economic growth predicted in the next year, increased consumption will likely place severe strains on the world's food supplies.
Rice, a staple for half of the world, could surge an astronomical 63 percent – from $638 a metric ton to $1,038 in the coming year, according to a survey of importers, exporters and analysts. Output has been stifled by dry weather and India and the Philippines have increased their imports.
Nonfat dry milk, commonly used in baking products and baby formula, could spike 39 percent next year, according to the USDA. Prices would climb to an average of $1.275 a pound from 92 cents.
Processed and fluid milk could jump 31 percent and cheese may see a 28 percent increase.
Overall, food prices around the world rose 7 percent in November – the fastest inflation rate since February 2008, which was the precursor to global food riots after prices reached record levels four months later.
"Volatility in price and supply are with us for the predictable future," Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the UN's World Food Program, told Bloomberg. "Risk is the new normal when it comes to food."
Gains in wheat inventories may mitigate the skyrocketing food prices. Warehouse supplies are enough to meet 23 percent of global demand, up from 19 percent two years ago, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said last week.
And global wheat stockpiles are expected to jump 17 percent to 190.0 million metric tons by May 31 – an eight year high – off of record production last year.