Global food prices have once again fallen to their lowest levels in over two years, thanks to abundant stocks of cooking oils and dairy products, despite ongoing concerns about the availability of essential staples from certain regions.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that a food-commodity cost index dropped by 2.1% last month due to lower demand and increased production of vegetable oils and milk. This index has declined by 24% since reaching its peak in March 2022 when grain exports were disrupted due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decline in food prices has been significantly influenced by grains over the past year. The second consecutive robust wheat harvest in Russia has played a role in stabilizing prices, and Ukrainian grain exports have persisted despite the termination of a Black Sea grain agreement and multiple attacks on its ports. Additionally, the United States is expected to harvest nearly record-breaking corn crops, although there is concern that exceptionally high temperatures towards the end of the growing season could impact yields.
Additionally, there are other concerns regarding the supply of essential food items. India has imposed export restrictions on rice, which is a crucial dietary staple for billions worldwide. This action has led to the rice index of the FAO reaching its highest nominal level in 15 years last month.
Severe weather patterns are impacting a range of crops, while food inflation continues to stay elevated in several countries due to increased energy and labor expenses. It’s important to note that the UN’s food price index represents the costs of globally-traded commodities, not retail prices.
The FAO reported that prices for dairy, vegetable oil, and meat all experienced declines of at least 3% last month. Additionally, the FAO’s measurement of grain prices also decreased, mainly due to a record corn harvest in Brazil. On the other hand, sugar prices saw an increase.