Singapore food inflation may double to 8.2% in second half of 2022: Nomura

Inflation is already spreading beyond cereals and edible oils to other categories like meat and processed food. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Asia's red-hot food prices will likely heat up further in the coming months, with Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines set to see the sharpest price increases, according to Nomura Holdings.

Food prices in Asia ex-Japan rose 5.9 per cent annually in May, from 2.7 per cent in December, Nomura said in a report on Monday (June 20).

That rate should accelerate in the second half of the year given the roughly six-month lag between the movement of global food costs and their impacts in Asia.

Issues like China's Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, Thailand's swine fever outbreak and India's heat wave add to woes.

Inflation is already spreading beyond cereals and edible oils to other categories like meat, processed food and even dining out, Nomura said.

Rice - so far kept stable by ample stocks - may be next if demand surges as nations seek alternatives to pricey wheat.

These are flashing warning signs for large food importers like Singapore, which is expected to see food inflation double to 8.2 per cent in the second half of this year from 4.1 per cent now, said Nomura.

India will likely see the highest print at 9.1 per cent due to rising feedstock costs, based on Nomura estimates.

"Consumers' perception of inflation is strongly influenced by the prices of frequently purchased necessities, such as food, and can lead to higher inflation expectations," it said, adding that Jakarta and Manila have already had to raise minimum wage levels to account for the higher cost of living.

While Asia's central banks initially pledged to look through supply side shocks, Nomura said looming second-round effects will trigger faster monetary policy normalisation.

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