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Global food prices down 2.1 pct in August: FAO

The benchmark index of international food commodity prices has declined 2.1 percent compared to July, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Friday.

The prices of rice, however, surged by 9.8 percent in August to a 15-year high compared to a month earlier. The increase was triggered by India’s rice export ban from July, complicated by a seasonal lull in production between rice harvests in the Northern Hemisphere.

Overall prices for grains and cereals, the largest component in the index, slipped by 0.7 percent due to strong harvests from major producers. Corn prices fell for the seventh consecutive month based on bumper crops in Brazil, while wheat prices were 3.8 percent lower based on strong harvests in the United States and Canada.

FAO said four of the five broad sub-indexes saw declines. In addition to the slight dip in prices for grains and cereals, prices were also lower for vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat.

Sugar prices, meanwhile, rose by 1.3 percent and were more than 34 percent above their levels from a year earlier. FAO said the increase in sugar prices stemmed from persisting concerns about impacts from the El Nio weather phenomenon in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Sugar output in India was also hurt by low rainfall there, while heavy rains made sugar harvests more difficult in Brazil.

The next FAO food price index is scheduled for publication on Oct. 6, 2023.