LONDON - The United Nations food agency’s world price index fell in February for an 11th consecutive month, and is now down 19 per cent from a record high hit last March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 129.8 points in February against 130.6 for January, the agency said on Friday.
It was the lowest reading since September 2021.
The monthly update said the decline in the index reflected lower prices for vegetable oils and dairy products, which more than offset a steep rise in sugar prices.
The FAO cereal price index fell by a marginal 0.1 per cent month on month in February, with a marginal rise in wheat prices more than offset by lower rice prices.
Vegetable oils fell by 3.2 per cent and dairy by 2.7 per cent, while sugar rose by 6.9 per cent to a six-year high due largely to a downward revision to production in India.
Lower wheat production
In a separate report on cereals supply and demand, the FAO issued a first preliminary forecast for global wheat production in 2023, with a year-on-year decline to 784 million tonnes seen, although the crop would still be the second highest on record.
“In Ukraine, severe financial constraints, infrastructure damage and obstructed access to fields in parts of the country have resulted in an estimated 40 per cent year-on-year reduction in the 2023 winter wheat area, and a well below-average wheat output is anticipated in 2023,” the FAO said.
The decline was partially offset by an expected rise in US production to 51 million tonnes, with high prices leading to an increase in wheat sowings to the highest level since 2015.
The FAO raised its forecast for world cereal production in 2022 by 9 million tonnes to 2.77 billion tonnes, although that would still be 1.3 per cent lower year on year.
The report said the bulk of the upward revision related to rice, with an improved outlook for production in India. REUTERS