food prices

Food prices hit record high in March 2022, UN agency says

Reuters
Food prices hit record high in March 2022, UN agency says

WHEAT. Ears of wheat are seen in a field near the village of Hrebeni in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, July 17, 2020.

Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Disruption to supplies of crops from the Black Sea region exacerbates price rises in food commodities

PARIS, France – World food prices jumped nearly 13% in March to a new record high as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staple grains and edible oils, the United Nations food agency said on Friday, April 8.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month versus an upwardly revised 141.4 for February.

The February figure was previously put at 140.7, which was a record at the time.

Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat, corn, barley, and sunflower oil via the Black Sea, and Moscow’s six-week-old invasion of its neighbor has stalled Ukrainian exports.

The FAO last month said food and feed prices could rise by up to 20% as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, raising the risk of increased malnutrition.

The agency’s cereal price index climbed 17% in March to a record level while its vegetable oil index surged 23%, also registering its highest reading yet, FAO said.

Disruption to supplies of crops from the Black Sea region has exacerbated price rises in food commodities, which were already running at 10-year highs in the FAO’s index before the war in Ukraine due to global harvest issues.

Sugar and dairy prices also rose sharply last month, the FAO said.

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In separate cereal supply and demand estimates on Friday, the FAO cut its projection of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tons, from 790 million last month, as it factored in the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine’s winter crop area would not be harvested.

The revised global wheat output estimate was nonetheless 1% above the previous year’s level, it said.

The agency lowered its projection of global cereals trade in the 2021-2022 marketing year as increased exports from Argentina, India, the European Union, and the United States were expected to only offset some of the disruption to Black Sea exports.

Total cereal trade in 2021-2022 was revised down by 14.6 million tons from the previous monthly outlook to 469 million tons, now 2% below the 2020-2021 level.

Projected world cereal stocks at the end of 2021-2022 were revised up by 15 million tons to nearly 851 million tons, mainly because of expectations that export disruption will lead to bigger stockpiles in Ukraine and Russia, the FAO added. – Rappler.com