International quotations for wheat, maize, vegetable oils
and cheese fall significantly, while rice, sugar and meat prices rise in May,
The benchmark index of international food commodity prices fell in May amid significant declines in quotations for most cereals, vegetable oils and dairy products, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported.
The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, averaged 124.3 points in May, down 2.6 percent from April and as much as 22.1 percent below the all-time high reached in March 2022.
The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 129.7 points in May, down 6.5 points (4.8 percent) from April and as much as 43.9 points (25.3 percent) below its record-high value one year ago. International wheat prices declined by 3.5 percent month-on-month, reflecting prospects for ample global supplies in the upcoming 2023/24 season and the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. World maize prices fell by 9.8 percent in May. A favourable outlook for 2023/24 pointing to a rebound in global supplies, with higher production expected in Brazil and the United States of America, two major exporters, weighed on prices. A slow pace of exports by the United States of America, along with cancelled purchases by China, also exerted downward pressure on world maize prices.
Among other coarse grains, world prices of barley and sorghum also declined, by 9.5 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, influenced by declines in international maize and wheat prices. By contrast, international prices of rice continued to increase in May, as previous deals with Asian buyers were executed and supplies tightened in some exporters, such as Viet Nam and Pakistan.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index dropped by 8.7 percent in May, averaging 48.2 percent below its year-earlier level. International palm oil prices fell markedly from April, as protracted weak global import purchases coincided with rising outputs in major producing countries. World soyoil prices fell for the sixth consecutive month amid a bumper soybean crop in Brazil and higher-than-expected stocks in the United States of America. Rapeseed and sunflower oil prices continued to decline on ample global supplies.
The FAO Dairy Price Index declined by 3.2 percent from April, led by a steep drop in international cheese prices due mainly to ample export availabilities amid seasonally high milk production in the northern hemisphere. However, international quotations for milk powders rebounded as did those for butter.
The FAO Sugar Price Index posted its fourth consecutive monthly increase, up by 5.5 percent from April and reaching a level nearly 31 percent higher than a year earlier. The jump reflected tighter global availabilities, rising concerns over the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on next season’s crops, and shipping delays amid strong competition from soybean and maize in Brazil. The positive outlook for 2023 sugarcane crops in Brazil prevented larger monthly price increases, as did lower international crude oil prices.
The FAO Meat Price Index also rose in May, increasing by 1.0 percent, driven primarily by a steady high Asian import demand for poultry meat and persistent supply tightness for bovine meat in the United States of America.