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PARIS: High food prices will prompt poorer nations to cut back on food imports this year, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday.

Global production of maize, milk and meat has increased this year, allowing developed nations to ramp up their own food imports, the FAO said in its biannual global Food Outlook report.

But imports in the world’s 47 least developed countries, mainly in Africa, will fall 1.5 percent, the FAO said.

The drop will be closer to five percent in developing countries that are net food importers, including Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan, highlighting a fall in purchasing power, it said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major grain exporter, sent food and energy prices soaring last year.

Although cereal and cooking oil have fallen off their peaks from March last year, they remain elevated, the FAO said.

Prices for fruit, vegetables and daily products are continuing to rise, curbing demand.

The global food import bill will hit a record $1.98 trillion this year, up 1.5 percent on 2022, but volume will be lower due to the higher prices, the FAO said.

Lower international prices for a number of primary food items have not translated into lower prices in supermarkets, suggesting “cost-of-living pressures could persist in 2023”, the FAO said.

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