Food prices fall for third consecutive month – UN agency

8 August 2013

Global food prices declined for the third consecutive month, largely driven by lower international prices for grains, soy and palm oil, while sugar, meat and dairy prices were also down, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The Rome-based agency said its Food Price Index averaged 205.9 points in July, which is 4 points below June and 7 points lower than in July 2012.

The Index measures monthly changes in international prices of a basket of meat, dairy, cereals, oils and fats, and sugar.

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 227.7 points in July, down 8.8 points from June and as much as 33 points below July last year. “The sharp decline mostly reflected falling maize prices as favourable weather boosted hopes of a significant production increase in several leading maize-producing countries,” said the agency.

Wheat prices also fell but the strong pace of exports limited the decline. Rice price changes varied according to origins, with a decrease in Thai prices contrasting with higher Vietnamese quotations.

The FAO Oils/Fats Price Index averaged 191 points in July, down by 7 points from June and the lowest level in three years. Meanwhile, while dairy prices fell overall – 2.6 per cent from June – the decline was by a smaller margin than in the previous two months as a result of tightening availabilities in Oceania and stagnating milk production amongst other exporters, principally in Europe, South America and the United States.

Meat prices, FAO noted, were more or less unchanged from the revised June level. Prices for poultry and pig meat were lower, while those of bovine and ovine meat rose.

In addition, sugar prices declined for the fourth consecutive month in July, on the back of anticipated large surplus production in major producing areas, notably in Brazil, the world's largest sugar producer and exporter.

Declining ethanol prices in Brazil also provided an incentive to convert more sugarcane into sugar instead of ethanol, which put additional downward pressure on international sugar prices, FAO stated.


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