World food prices rose nearly 13% to a new record high in March as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staple foods and cooking oils, the UN Food Agency said on Friday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index, which tracks the world’s most traded groceries, averaged 159.3 points last month from an upwardly revised reading of 141.4 for February.
The February number was previously reported as 140.7, which was a record at the time.
Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil across the Black Sea, and Moscow’s six-week invasion of its neighbor has paralyzed Ukrainian exports.
The FAO said last month food and feed prices could rise by up to 20% as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, raising the risk of increased malnutrition.
The agency’s grain price index rose 17% in March to a record level, while the vegetable oil index rose 23% and also hit its highest level, the FAO said.
The disruption in supplies of crops from the Black Sea region has exacerbated food price increases, which in the FAO index were already at 10-year highs before the war in Ukraine due to global crop problems.
Sugar and dairy prices have also risen sharply over the past month, the FAO said.
In separate grain supply and demand estimates on Friday, the FAO lowered its forecast for global wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tonnes from 790 million last month, as it factored in the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine’s winter-cropped area would not be harvested will.
The revised global wheat production estimate is still 1% above the previous year’s level, it said.
The agency lowered its forecast for global grain trade in marketing year 2021/22 as it expected increased exports from Argentina, India, the European Union and the United States would offset only part of the disruption in Black Sea exports.
Total grain trade in 2021/22 has been revised down by 14.6 million tonnes to 469 million tonnes from the previous monthly forecast, which is now 2% below 2020/21 levels.
Projected global grain stocks at the end of 2021/22 have been revised upwards by 15 million tonnes to nearly 851 million tonnes, mainly on expectations that export disruptions will lead to larger stockpiles in Ukraine and Russia, the FAO added.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/agri-business/agri-food/food-prices-hit-record-high-in-march-41533941.html Food prices hit a record high in March