World food prices jump to six-year high: UN

Published December 4, 2020
Global food commodity prices rose sharply in November to their highest level in nearly six years, the UN food agency said. — AFP/file
Global food commodity prices rose sharply in November to their highest level in nearly six years, the UN food agency said. — AFP/file

ROME: Global food commodity prices rose sharply in November to their highest level in nearly six years, the UN food agency said on Thursday, due in part to adverse weather conditions.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said prices of the most globally traded foodstuffs were up across the board, putting extra pressure in particular on 45 countries that need outside help feeding their populations.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 105 points during the month, up 3.9 per cent from October and 6.5pc from a year earlier. “The monthly increase was the sharpest since July 2012, putting the index at its highest level since December 2014,” the Rome-based agency said.

The biggest rise was in the vegetable oil price index, which jumped 14.5pc because of low palm oil stocks.

The cereal price index rose 2.5pc from October — making it nearly 20pc higher than a year ago.

Wheat export prices were also up, because of reduced harvest prospects in Argentina, as were maize prices, with lower output expectations in the US and Ukraine and large purchases by China, the FAO said.

The sugar price index was up 3.3pc month-on-month amid “growing expectations of a global production shortfall” as bad weather sparked weaker crop prospects in the EU, Russia and Thailand.

Dairy prices also rose 0.9pc to near an 18-month high, in part because of a boom in sales in Europe. Meat prices were up 0.9pc from October, but significantly down on a year ago, the report said.

The increase in prices is an extra burden for those who saw their income fall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which the FAO said is proving to be “an important driver of the levels of global food insecurity”.

“The pandemic is exacerbating and intensifying already fragile conditions caused by conflicts, pests and weather shocks, including recent hurricanes in Central America and floods in Africa,” it said.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2020

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