The FAO’s food price index averaged 158.2 points in April, 0.8 percent less than the increase in March, but remained almost 30 percent higher than in April 2021.
The Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a basket of food commodities, and the decline was led by a slight decline in the prices of vegetable oils and grains.
The most vulnerable are still at risk
“The small drop in the index is a welcome relief, especially for low-income countries, yet food prices remain close to their recent highsreflects ongoing market tightness and poses a challenge to global food security for the most vulnerable,” said Máximo Torero Cullen, FAO chief economist.
The vegetable oil price index registered a 5.7 percent drop in April, almost a third of the increase in March.
Demand rationing drove prices for palm, sunflower and soybean oil, the FAO said, while uncertainties about export opportunities from Indonesia – the world’s largest exporter of palm oil – curtailed further price falls in the international market.
War impact in Ukraine
The FAO grain price index fell by 0.7 points in April as a result of a 3.0 percent drop in world maize prices.
Wheat prices rose 0.2 percent, heavily impacted by ongoing blockades of ports in Ukraine. The country, together with Russia, accounts for about 30 percent of global wheat exports.
Other factors behind the increase included concerns about crop conditions in the United States, although it was tempered by larger shipments from India and higher-than-expected exports from Russia.
Meanwhile, international rice prices rose 2.3 percent, supported by strong demand from China and the Near East.
The FAO has also released updated forecasts for the world’s grain supply and demand, showing that while inventories are rising, trade is likely to decline this year.
Global wheat production is expected to grow to 782 million tons, taking into account an expected 20 percent decrease in harvested area in Ukraine and a decrease due to drought in Morocco.
Record high for meat
FAO said the sugar price index rose 3.3 percent in April, mainly due to higher ethanol prices and concerns about the slow start to the 2022 harvest in Brazil, the world’s largest sugar exporter.
The FAO Meat Price Index hit a new record last month, rising 2.2 percent as prices for poultry, pork and beef rose. Poultry costs were impacted by export disruptions from Ukraine and increasing outbreaks of avian flu in the Northern Hemisphere.
The dairy price index also rose 0.9 percent, driven by what the FAO described as “ongoing global supply shortages”, with milk production in Western Europe and Oceania remaining below seasonal levels.
The agency reported that world butter prices rose the most, driven by rising demand related to the current shortage of sunflower oil and margarine.