UN food body cites sharp fall in export prices of vegetable oils, partly driven by coronavirus fears, for drop
World food prices fell in February due to a sharp fall in the export prices of vegetable oils, partly driven by coronavirus fears slowing the global demand, the UN food body said on Thursday.
For the first time in last four months, food prices dropped 1% on a monthly basis, averaging 180.5 points last month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
The figure was still up 8.1% year-on-year.
Vegetable oil prices declined 10.3% from the previous month, with international palm oil prices falling more due to higher-than-expected output in Malaysia, a temporary drop in India’s import demand and concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“Sugar prices were up 4.5% amid prospects of lower production in India as well as in Thailand, combined with a strong global import demand,” according to the FAO.
Last month, cereal prices slightly dropped and wheat prices were lower, reflecting well-supplied markets, while maize prices retreated as demand from the livestock feed sector dipped amid expectations of a weakening global economy.
“By contrast, international rice prices rose, buoyed by strong demand from Far Eastern and East African buyers,” it added.
The FAO dairy price index posted a 4.6% rise while the meat price index was down 2.0% from January, influenced by reduced imports by China, affected by delays in cargo handling in ports.
The FAO food price index is a trade weighted index that tracks international market prices of five major food commodity groups.