Food prices rise to highest levels in almost a year

ROME: World food prices rose some 1.5 per cent in April, with a jump in dairy and meat prices helping offset a fall in cereal quotations, the United Nations food agency said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also issued its first forecast for global cereal production this year, seeing a record output for 2019 following a decline in 2018.
FAO’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 170.1 points last month against an upwardly revised 167.5 points in March. The March figure was previously given as 167.0.
The index in April was at its highest level since last June, but still some 2.3 per cent below its level of one year ago.
The FAO dairy price index jumped 5.2 per cent from March’s value, its fourth successive monthly rise, driven by strong import demand for butter, whole milk powder and cheese.
The meat price index rose 3 per cent month-on-month, pushed higher in part by a rise in meat quotations following a surge in import demand in Asia, notably China.
The sugar and vegetable oil indices also rose, but the cereal index fell 2.8 per cent last month, with wheat leading the way down as prospects for a strong 2019 production hit prices. FAO said the cereals index in general was pressured by “large export availabilities and slowing trade”.
In its first forecast for 2019, FAO predicted world cereal production would come in at a record 2.722 billion tonnes this year, up 2.7 per cent on 2018 levels, when output declined. — Reuters