Global prices for food commodities dropped sharply in July, led by declines in vegetable oil and grain markets, but food costs overall remain 13% above a year ago.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index dropped for the fourth month in a row in July, averaging 140.9 points, down 9.6% from June. The July drop was the steepest monthly decline in the index since October 2008.

The July index was still 16.4 points higher than the same month in 2021.

“The decline in food commodity prices from very high levels is welcome, especially when seen from a food access viewpoint; however, many uncertainties remain, including high fertilizer prices that can impact future production prospects and farmers’ livelihoods, a bleak global economic outlook, and currency movements, all of which pose serious strains for global food security,” said FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero.

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The cereal price index dropped 11.5% in July, led by a 14.5% dip in wheat prices, partly reflecting an agreement between Ukraine and Russia to allow the shipment of food commodities from Black Sea ports. The agreement to unblock Ukraine’s ports also was a factor behind a 10.7% drop in corn prices along with availability of supplies from Argentina and Brazil.

The deal to unblock Ukraine’s ports was also mostly behind a 10.7% fall in world maize prices. Increased seasonal availabilities in Argentina and Brazil, where maize harvests progressed ahead of their pace last year, also helped to ease the pressure on prices.

FAO’s meat price index is relatively flat, slipping just 0.5% in July.

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