Global food commodity prices rose in March, marking their tenth consecutive monthly increase, with quotations for vegetable oils and dairy products leading the rise, 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 118.5 points in March, 2.1 percent higher than in February and reaching its highest level since June 2014.
Trends varied by commodity types. The March increase was led by the FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index, which rose 8.0 percent from the previous month to hit a nearly 10-year high, with soy oil prices rising sharply due in part to the prospects of firm demand from the biodiesel sector.
The FAO Dairy Price Index increased 3.9 percent from February, with butter prices buoyed by somewhat tight supplies in Europe associated with increased demand in anticipation of a food-service sector recovery. Milk powder prices also rose, supported by a surge in imports in Asia, particularly China, due to declining production in Oceania and scarce shipping container availability in Europe and North America.
The FAO Meat Price Index also rose, by 2.3 percent from February, with imports by China and a surge in internal sales in Europe ahead of the Easter holiday celebration underpinning increasing poultry and pig meat quotations. Bovine meat prices remained steady, while ovine meat prices declined as dry weather in New Zealand led to farmers offloading animals.
By contrast, the FAO Cereal Price Index dropped by 1.8 percent, but it is still 26.5 percent higher than in March 2020. Wheat export prices declined the most, reflecting generally good supplies and favourable production prospects for 2021 crops. Maize and rice prices also declined, while those for sorghum rose.
The FAO Sugar Price Index declined 4.0 percent in the month, triggered by prospects of large exports from India, but it remained more than 30 percent above its year-earlier level.