World food prices fall to lowest level in more than two years

World food prices fall to lowest level in more than two years

World food prices declined during the month of November to their lowest level in more than two years — led by declines in vegetable oils, dairy and cereal, according to the United Nations food agency.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 160.8 points last month — down from a revised 162.9 in October, and its lowest level since May 2016.

The October figure was previously given as 163.5. In November, only the sugar price index gained, rising 4.4% from October, FAO said.

The UN body’s Cereal Price Index averaged almost 164 points in November, down 1.1% from October. Vegetable oil prices fell for a tenth consecutive month, by 7.6% on the month and reaching a 12-year low.

Cereal prices fell partly because new crops weighed on rice export quotations and export competition drove down maize, FAO said.

Global palm oil prices fell considerably due to a marked reduction in demand — “fuelled by both persisting large inventories in leading exporting countries and the recent contraction in global mineral oil prices,” the FAO stated.

Soy and sunflower oil prices weakened due to “abundant supplies across the US, the EU, and several emerging markets and positive production prospects in the Black Sea region”.

Dairy prices dropped 3.3% from October, for a sixth straight monthly decline, and meat prices slipped slightly.

FAO said global cereals output in 2018/19 was seen at 2.595bn tonnes, down marginally from the previous forecast and 2.4% below last year’s record high production.

FAO’s forecast for world wheat production in 2018/19 was 725.1m tonnes, a revised prediction which is some 2.8m tonnes lower than the UN group’s previous forecast, “reflecting reduced estimates for this year’s harvests in Turkey and the Russian Federation”, said the FAO.

FAO’s forecast for world cereal stocks at the close of seasons in 2019 was 762 million tonnes, unchanged from November.

This world food prices represents a continuation of a downward trend.

FAO’s index of world food prices also fell 0.9% in October versus September, reflecting lower values for meat, dairy and oils. The FAO’s regular basket of products averaged 163.5 points for October, against 164.9 for September.

In November, FAO said global cereals output in 2018 was seen at 2.601bn tonnes, up nearly 10m tonnes on the previous forecast given in October, but still down 57m tonnes, or 2.1%, from 2017’s record production level.

Reuters

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