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World food prices decline for 12th consecutive month

Rome, Italy | Xinhua | World food prices declined for the 12th consecutive month in March, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported on Friday. It was the first time the index has fallen for a full year.

FAO’s broad Food Price Index slipped 2.1 percent in March, and it is now down 20.5 percent since reaching its all-time peak a year ago after a big surge following the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Grains and cereals, the largest component in the index, was down 5.6 percent compared to the previous month and down 18.6 percent over the last 12 months.

Among grains and cereals, wheat prices fell the most, dipping 7.1 percent as exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea assuaged market fears. Corn prices were 4.6 percent lower due to strong production in South America, while rice prices were 3.2 percent lower, due to data from harvest prospects in India, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Prices for vegetable oils were down by 3 percent in March and a staggering 47.7 percent compared to March 2022. Dairy prices, meanwhile, were down by 0.8 percent, contributing to a decline of 10.7 percent compared to a year earlier, and meat prices inched 0.8 higher in March but were still down by 5.3 percent over the last 12 months.

FAO said that the softening demand and adaptations to global supply chains obstacles, such as increased competition between suppliers, were the main factors pushing prices lower over the last year.

The main exception to that trend was sugar prices, which rose by 1.5 percent in March, reaching their highest level since October 2016.

Despite falling prices, FAO officials have repeatedly warned in recent months that fuel supply issues and other market uncertainties threaten many of the world’s poorest nations.

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.

The next FAO index is scheduled to be released on May 5.

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