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INTERNATIONAL

Oct’s FAO Food Price Index averages 163.5 points, down 0.9% from Sept
Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Rome
The United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index, a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, averaged 163.5 points in October, down 0.9 per cent from September and 7.4 per cent below its level a year earlier. International food commodity prices dipped in October, as falling dairy, meat and vegetable oils prices more than offset a surge in sugar prices.

The FAO Dairy Price Index led the overall decline, slipping 4.8 per cent from the previous month and 34 per cent below the peak reached in February 2014. The weaker prices reflect increased export supplies across all major dairy products, especially from New Zealand.

The FAO Meat Price Index declined two per cent from September, with ovine, pig, bovine and poultry meat, all posting drops due mostly to abundant export supplies.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index fell by 1.5 per cent, its ninth consecutive monthly drop, to reach its lowest level since April 2009. The latest slide was mostly driven by sluggish global import demand for palm oil and large inventories held by the commodity’s major exporting countries. International soy oil prices increased slightly.

The FAO Cereal Price Index rebounded, rising 1.3 per cent from September, mostly due to firmer maize quotations from the United States of America. Rice prices, by contrast, fell, partly influenced by currency movements weighing on Japonica and fragrant varieties.

The FAO Sugar Price Index surged 8.7 per cent, mostly as a result of negative climate-related production prospects in India and Indonesia, as well as indications of an increasing share of Brazil’s sugarcane output being used to produce ethanol.

World cereal output forecasts raised
FAO has also raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2018 to 2,601 million tonne (MT), primarily due to higher estimates for wheat production in Canada and China. Nonetheless, the new forecast remains 2.1 per cent below the record level achieved in 2017.

“Global rice output this year is expected to surpass last year’s all-time high by 1.3 per cent, reaching 513 MT,” according to FAO’s latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, also released recently.

World wheat production in 2018 is now forecast at around 728 MT, marking a 4.3 per cent decline from the previous year. Winter wheat crops, to be harvested in 2019, are currently being sown in the Northern Hemisphere, while in the European Union (EU), the United States and India, generally remunerative prices are expected to stimulate an increase in plantings.

The worldwide output of coarse grains is forecast at 1,360 MT, a 2.2 per cent drop from 2017. Coarse grain crops are currently being planted in the Southern Hemisphere countries, and early prospects indicate an expansion in maize plantings in South America.

FAO expects world cereal utilisation to rise by 0.2 per cent to a record 2,653 MT, spurred by higher feed and industrial uses of maize, especially in China and the United States. The use of wheat for food consumption is anticipated to rise by one per cent, while that for rice is expected to increase by 1.1 per cent.

Worldwide cereal stocks at the close of seasons in 2019 are now forecast to reach almost 762 MT, some 6.5 per cent below their record-high opening level.

Total inventories of coarse grains are expected to fall for the first time in six years, while those of wheat are set to decrease by 4.5 per cent, with drawdowns to be led by major exporters. World rice stocks, by contrast, are expected to rise by 2.6 per cent to 176.6 MT.

International trade in cereals is now forecast to decline 1.1 per cent from the 2017-18 record level, with trade in both wheat and rice contracting. World trade in coarse grains is still forecast to remain close to the previous year’s record level, at around 195 MT, with maize volumes increasing while those of sorghum declining.
 
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