Global food prices continue to surge, hitting 7-year highs: UN



Global food commodity prices rose in March, marking their tenth consecutive monthly increase./Getty Images

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in a new report says that global food commodity prices rose in March, marking their tenth consecutive monthly increase.

TheFAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, averaged 118.5 points in March, 2.1% higher than in February and reaching its highest level since June 2014.

According to the FAO, the March increase was led by the vegetable oil price index, which rose 8% from the previous month to hit a nearly 10-year high, “with soy oil prices rising sharply due in part to the prospects of firm demand from the biodiesel sector.”

The February figure was previously given as 116.0.

FAO also said in a statement thatworldwide cereal harvests remained on course to hit an annual record in 2020, adding that early indications pointed to a further increase in production this year.

FAO's cereal price index fell 1.7 percent month on month in March, ending eight months of consecutive gains, but still 26.5 percent higher than the same period last month.

"Wheat export prices declined the most, reflecting generally good supplies and favourable production prospects for 2021 crops. Maize and rice prices also declined, while those for sorghum rose.”

Dairy prices rose for a 10th month running, registering a 3.9 percent increase. FAO said one of the drivers in the sector was milk powder, which was boosted by a surge in imports in Asia, especially China, due to concerns about short-term supplies.

The meat index climbed 2.3 percent, but unlike all the other indices, it was still slightly down on a year-on-year basis. FAO said poultry and pig meat quotations increased, underpinned by a fast pace of imports by Asian countries, mainly China.

Sugar prices dropped 4 percent month on month, but was still up 30 percent on the year. March’s decline was fuelled by prospects of large exports from India, FAO said.

(With input from agencies)