ROME: World food prices increased for a 11th consecutive month in April, hitting their highest level since May 2014, with sugar leading a rise in all the main indices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 120.9 points last month versus a revised 118.9 in March.
The March figure was previously given as 118.5.
The Rome-based FAO also said in a statement that new forecasts pointed to growth in both world wheat and maize output in the coming season.
FAO’s cereal price index rose 1.2% in April month-on-month and 26% year-on-year. Worries about crop conditions in Argentina, Brazil and the United States pushed maize prices up 5.7% last month, while wheat prices held largely steady. By contrast, international rice prices slipped, FAO said.
FAO’s vegetable oil price index rose 1.8% on the month, pushed higher by rising soy, rapeseed and palm oil quotations, which offset lower sunflower oil values.
Dairy prices rose 1.2%, with butter, skim milk powder and cheese all lifted by good demand from Asia, while the meat index climbed 1.7%.
FAO said both bovine and ovine meat quotations rose, supported by “solid demand” from East Asia.
After a sharp drop in March, sugar prices rebounded in April, posting a 3.9% increase on the month and an almost 60% surge on the year.
The monthly increase was prompted by strong buying amid concerns over tighter supplies in 2020/21, due to a slow harvest in Brazil and frost damage in France, FAO said.
FAO raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2020 by 1.7 million tonnes to 2.767 billion tonnes, 2.1% up on 2019 levels.
The UN agency also provided its first outlook for wheat in the 2021/22 season, forecasting production at 778.8 million tonnes, up 0.5% on the 2020 estimate, lifted by an anticipated 6% increase in output in the European Union.
FAO also said that early prospects for global coarse grains production in 2021 pointed to a likely third consecutive year of growth, mostly related to maize.