A measure of world prices for food commodities fell for the ninth consecutive month in December, driven by a sharp drop in the cost of vegetable oils and softer prices for meat and grains.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index dropped 1.9% to 132.4 points last month, 1% below its level a year ago.
Despite the easing of prices over recent months, the index still averaged 143.7 points for the year, a 14.3% increase over the average for 2021.
“Calmer food commodity prices are welcome after two very volatile years,” FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero said in a release.
“It is important to remain vigilant and keep a strong focus on mitigating global food insecurity given that world food prices remain at elevated levels, with many staples near record highs, and with prices of rice increasing, and still many risks associated with future supplies”
The index for vegetable oils fell 6.7% in December due to sharp price declines for palm, soy, rapeseed (canola) and sunflower oils. Palm oil prices were down 5% last month as global import demand softened. Soybean oil prices fell “largely due to positive prospects of seasonally rising production in Argentina,” FAO said.
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Despite the declines, the average index for vegetable oil prices was up 13.9% in 2022 over 2021.
The index for grains was down 4.8% in December on price drops for wheat and corn due to strong production in the southern hemisphere. For all of 2022 FAO’s grain price index averaged a record 154.7 points, up 17.9% from 2021.
FAO’s index for meat fell 2.5% in December on lower prices for beef and poultry, helping offset an increase for pork. Beef prices were “pressured by a higher supply of slaughter cattle in several large producing countries and lackluster global demand for medium-term supplies,” FAO said.
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