World food prices dipped marginally in October from the previous month, even though there was a surge in sugar prices and a moderate increase in the prices of cereals, according to a global food outlook released by the UN food agency on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) food price index—which tracks monthly changes in prices of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar—averaged 163.5 points last month, down 1.4 points (0.9 per cent) from September and some 13 points (7.4 per cent) lower than the corresponding value during the same period last year.
The decline in the global food price index was due to falling dairy, meat and oilseeds prices, which more than offset an increase in sugar price and a modest jump in cereal prices.
Sugar price index averaged 175.4 points in October, up 14 points (8.7 per cent) from September. The rapid increase in sugar price quotations was due to dip in sugar production projections in India and Indonesia on account of weather-related vagaries. Higher diversion of sugarcane output for ethanol production in Brazil too contributed its bit.
The FAO cereal price index made a rebound of 2.2 points (1.3 per cent) to 166.3 points in October from the previous month on account of firming up of maize and wheat prices, the latter because deteriorating crop prospects in Australia. Rice prices, on the other hand, fell because new arrivals in the market, the FAO said.
The vegetable oil price index was down 2 points (1.5 per cent) in October, the lowest level since April 2009. The index has been falling for consecutive nine months. The slide was mainly due to sluggish global import demand for palm oil. International soybean oil and mustard oil prices, on the other hand, rebounded slightly while sunflower oil prices remained unchanged.
The global diary price index has been continuing its slide since May this year, but October witnessed one of the worst dips in the recent months. It slumped by 9.2 points (4.8 per cent) in October to 181.8 points from 191 in September.
October also saw softening of global meat prices which dropped by 3.3 points (2 per cent) with index averaging around 161.6 points.