Oct 7, 2023 - Economy

Food companies reap record profits amid hunger crisis

Profits of select global agriculture companies
Data: United Nations; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

We're in a major hunger crisis — and private corporations are reaping the benefit.

Why it matters: The largest food-trading companies have the status of oligopolies and have become "unregulated financial institutions," according to a blistering 29-page chapter of the 2023 UNCTAD trade and development report, entitled "Food Commodities, Corporate Profiteering and Crises."

  • "The profits of four major food traders rise during periods of market volatility and during crises," note the authors.

The bottom line: More than 345 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity this year. That's a rise of 200 million people from where we were pre-pandemic. Private companies can't necessarily solve that problem — but their unprecedented profits do seem rather distasteful, all the same.

Go deeper