By Tuba Sahin
Global food prices remained steady in January compared to the previous month as rising cereal and palm oil prices were compensated by lower sugar and dairy products prices, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday.
The food price index averaged 169.5 points in January, almost unchanged from December, according to the organization.
The index was down 3 percent compared with the same period last year, the statement read.
The FAO Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index that tracks international market prices of five major food commodity groups.
The cereal price index rose almost 2.5 percent month-on-month in January due to concerns over weather and a weaker U.S. dollar, FAO said.
"The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index was virtually unchanged in January, as palm oil values rose moderately while those for sunflower and rapeseed oils weakened," it added.
The dairy price index dropped 2.4 percent as international price quotations for butter and cheese were lower during the same period.
The sugar price index, on the other hand, declined 1.6 percent on a monthly basis due to strong production outcomes and consequently ample export availabilities, according to the FAO.
"The FAO Meat Price Index was almost unchanged month-on-month, as weak import demand for poultry and pigmeat offset stronger demand for ovine meat and reduced quantities of bovine meat offered for sale from Oceania," it said.
-Global cereal production hits all-time high
The FAO also estimated that global cereal production rose 1.3 percent year-on-year and hit an all-time record high at 2.6 billion tons in 2017.
"The forecast has been raised by 13.5 million tons since December, with coarse grains driving the bulk of the increase, due largely to higher maize output expected in China, Mexico and the European Union," it said.
The FAO noted that cereal stocks were forecasted to rise above their current levels, leading to a comfortable world stocks-to-use ratio of 27.7 percent, the highest since 2001-2002.
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