Home / News / World /  World food prices fall in August for 3rd month running: FAO

Rome: World food prices fell for a third month running in August, pushed down by a sharp drop in the prices of sugar, wheat and maize, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 169.8 points in August from an upwardly revised 171.7 points in July.

The FAO Cereal Price Index declined by 6.4% from the previous month. Maize values turned sharply lower due to expectations of a much larger than previously anticipated harvest in the US, the world's largest maize producer and exporter.

Wheat prices also remained under downward pressure, reflecting ample export availabilities, but those of rice edged up, due to seasonal effects as well as concerns over the impact of weather on crops in Thailand.

The FAO Sugar Price Index was down 4% from July, due largely to the weakening of the Brazilian real, as well as prospects of larger shipments by India and Mexico.

By contrast, the FAO Vegetable Oil Index rose by 5.9% in August, hitting an 11-month high amid a rebound in global import demand for palm oil as well as unfavourable weather conditions in Indonesia's major growing regions. Soy oil prices also rose, driven in part by lower than anticipated crush volumes in North America.

The August FAO Meat Price Index rose by 0.5%, now up 12.3% from its value at the beginning of the year. The increase reflected higher international price quotations for pig meat, underpinned by strong import demand from China, where the African Swine Fewer has curtailed domestic production.

The FAO Dairy Price Index rose by 0.5% from its July level, reversing sharp falls registered in the previous two months, as price quotations rose for cheese, skim milk powder and whole milk powder.

FAO also released a new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, raising its July forecast for global cereal output by 22 million tonnes to 2 708 million tonnes, 2.1% above the 2018 outturn.

The revisions mostly reflect improved expectations for US maize production.

Meanwhile, FAO lowered its estimate for global wheat output in 2019 due to reduced crop productivity in the European Union and Russia but it is still expected to be 5 per cent higher than last year. The forecast for worldwide rice production has been revised up from July to 517 million tonnes, at par with 2018's record level, driven by increases in China and the US.

World cereal utilization for the year ahead is expected to hit a new record of 2,715 million tonnes, buoyed by rice consumption reaching an all-time high of 519 million tonnes, translating into a 0.5 kilogramme per capita increase from the previous year. Utilization forecasts for wheat, maize and barley were also raised.

The stronger harvest prospects point to world cereal stocks reaching 847 million tonnes by the close of seasons in 2020, which, however, would remain around 16 million tonnes below their opening levels. Maize inventories are expected to accumulate sharply in the US, while China's wheat stocks are currently set to expand by 7.9 per cent and to reach an all-time high.

FAO left its forecast for world trade in cereals unchanged at nearly 415 million tonnes, as expected increases in wheat and rice trade offset reduced trade prospects for maize and sorghum.

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