A recent research brief from Oxfam International, Profiting from Pain, uncovers the massive wealth inequalities that contribute to global food insecurity.

While prices of food, energy, and other basic items rose from 2019 to 2022, the brief finds companies including Cargill and Walmart earned more than they have over the last 23 years. Oxfam reports that there are now 2,668 billionaires in the world–that is 573 more billionaires compared to 2019. At the same time, between 2019 and 2022, a quarter of a million people around the world experienced poverty and food insecurity.

Irit Tamir, Director of Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department, tells Food Tank, “if governments were able to tax the wealthiest, there would be more money available to invest in poverty-busting public services like education, health, and social care.”

Tamir says that taxing industries on excess profits can help redistribute wealth to vulnerable communities. She explains that industries charging more for basic items, including food, throughout the pandemic, should be taxed accordingly.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, food price inflation, compounded by supply chain and labor shortages, has added to an already unstable food system. The brief finds that corporate tax breaks have increased profits for the wealthiest companies in the food, energy, pharmaceutical, and technology sectors.

In the food and agriculture sector for instance, billionaires saw their collective wealth increase by US$382 billion between 2020 and 2022. According to the brief, together with just three other companies, the Cargill family dominates 70 percent of the global agriculture market. In 2021, Cargill made US$5 billion in net income, its largest profit ever. The company’s profits are expected to increase further in 2022.

Read the full article about Profiting from Pain by Sycamore May at Food Tank.