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FAO Food Price Index Down Again in January Led by Lower Wheat and Maize Prices

The benchmark for world food commodity prices fell further in January, albeit slightly, led by decreases in the prices of cereals and meat, which more than offset an increase in the sugar prices, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported today.

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a set of globally-traded food commodities, averaged 118 points in January, down 1 percent from December and 10.4 percent from its corresponding value a year ago.  

The FAO Cereal Price Index declined by 2.2 percent from the previous month. Global wheat export prices declined in January driven by strong competition among exporters and the arrival of recently harvested supplies in the southern hemisphere countries, while those of maize fell sharply, reflecting improved crop conditions and the start of the harvest in Argentina and larger supplies in the United States of America. By contrast, price quotations for rice rose 1.2 percent in January, reflecting a strong export demand for Thai and Pakistani higher quality Indica rice and additional purchases by Indonesia.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose marginally by 0.1 percent from December - but was still 12.8 percent lower than a year earlier - reflecting moderate increases in international palm and sunflower seed oil prices offsetting declines in the prices of soy and rapeseed oils. World palm oil prices were driven by seasonally lower production in major producing countries and concerns over unfavourable weather conditions in Malaysia. Meanwhile, increased import demand slightly pushed up sunflower seed oil prices. By contrast, international soy and rapeseed oil prices declined on account of prospects for large supplies from South America and lingering ample availabilities in Europe, respectively.

The FAO Dairy Price Index remained virtually unchanged from its revised December value, standing 17.8 percent below its value a year ago. In January, international price quotations for butter and whole milk powder increased largely due to higher demand from Asian buyers, nearly offsetting declines in those for skim milk powder and cheese.

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