Rome-The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO has said that global food commodity prices rose 4.2 per cent in June, their steepest monthly increase of the past four years.
The FAO Food Price Index – a trade-weighted index tracking international market prices for the cereals, vegetable oils, dairy, meat and sugar commodity groups – averaged 163.4 points in June and is now one per cent below the level reached a year earlier.
The June rise, which affected all commodity categories except vegetable oils, was the fifth consecutive monthly increase. The price movement reflects FAO’s updating of its cereal supply and demand forecasts for the 2016/17 marketing season.
Sugar prices rose 14.8 per cent from May, as Brazil – the world’s largest sugar producer and exporter – endured heavy rains that hindered harvesting and dented yields.
Cereal prices rose 2.9 per cent in the month and are now 3.9 per cent below their June 2015 level. The increase was driven by maize prices, primarily due to tightening spot export supplies from Brazil. Ample wheat supplies and reports of record yields in the United States held down wheat prices, FAO said.
Dairy prices rose 7.8 per cent from May, spurred by an uncertain outlook in Oceania and slower production growth in the European Union (EU). Nonetheless, the index remained 14 per cent below its level of a year ago, according to the agency.
Meat prices rose 2.4 per cent from the revised May value, as average quotations for pork, beef and poultry all rose for the third consecutive month, while vegetable oil prices declined 0.8 per cent from May.
Meanwhile, the United Nations’ food agency said it needed $730 million over the next 12 months for relief in seven southern African countries hit hard by a blistering drought and faced a $610 million shortfall.
The World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement the seven countries were Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Madagascar, Swaziland and Zambia.
In Malawi, WFP said it needed $288 million but had only sourced $43 million, while in Zimbabwe – where drought has exacerbated an economic meltdown which has led to unrest – $228 million was required but only a tenth of that has been raised.
An El Nino weather pattern, which ended in May, triggered drought conditions across the region which hit the staple maize and other crops and dented economic growth.