World food prices fall slightly in November: FAO

Index reached new record highs in February and March and has slowly declined or held steady since then

Rome: Increased stability in grain exports from Russia and Ukraine sent global prices for grains and cereals lower in November, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

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The broader FAO Food Price Index was flat compared to a month earlier, remaining near record highs, Xinhua news agency quoted the UN body as saying on Friday.

The Organization said that Russia’s rejoining of the Black Sea Grain Initiative was a driving force in November, pushing global prices for wheat 2.8 per cent lower.

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FAO’s sub-index for grains and cereals, which includes wheat, also declined, though only by 1.3 per cent. The sub-index is the largest component in the main Food Price Index.

Black Sea ports, normally major trading hubs of wheat and other grains, have been unreliable since Russia launched its ongoing war against Ukraine on February 24, pushing prices to record highs earlier in the year.

After a period outside the initiative, Russia rejoined it in November and the terms for the agreement were extended into 2023.

FAO said the stability in wheat exports connected to the Black Sea Grain Initiative was enough to balance higher demand from the US and some European countries.

The overall Food Price Index was unchanged from October, though it remained 0.3 per cent above its levels from a year earlier — then an all-time record.

The index reached new record highs in February and March and has slowly declined or held steady since then, as markets adapt to the difficulties stemming from the Ukraine conflict.

FAO said global prices for vegetable oil rose by 2.3 per cent, pushed higher by unusually high demand for palm oil and soy oil, while sugar prices rose by 5.2 percent after declining for six consecutive months.

Lower export quotas in India and less availability from Brazil were the main factors in the reversal of sugar quotas.

Dairy prices were 1.2 per cent lower in November but were still 9.2 per cent higher than a year earlier. Challenges to supply routes were behind the rises during the last half year.

Meat prices were 0.9 per cent lower, FAO said. The sub-index is still 4.1 per cent above its levels from a year ago.

FAO’s Food Price Index is based on worldwide prices for 23 food commodity categories covering prices for 73 different products compared to a baseline year.

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