World food price index on the rise for six years

World food prices rose for an eighth consecutive month in January, hitting their highest level since July 2014, led by jumps in cereals, sugar and vegetable oils, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday, reports Reuters.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 113.3 points last month versus an upwardly revised 108.6 in December.

The December figure was previously given as 107.5.

The Rome-based FAO also said in a statement that worldwide cereal harvests remained on course to hit an annual record in 2020, but warned of a sharp fall in stocks and signalled unexpectedly large import demands from China.

FAO’s cereal price index climbed 7.1% month-on-month in January, led higher by international maize prices, which soared 11.2%, some 42.3% above their level a year ago, buoyed in part by purchases by China and lower-than-expected US production.

Wheat prices increased 6.8%, driven by strong global demand and expectations of reduced sales by Russia when its wheat export duty doubles in March 2021, FAO said.

Sugar prices jumped 8.1%, with worries about worsening crop prospects in the European Union, Russia and Thailand, and dry weather conditions in South America, pushing up import demand.

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