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FAO: Global food prices surge, hit 13% in March

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has raised the red flag on the lingering global food crises, saying the price surge that hit 13 percent in March, was the highest level in recent times. FAO’s monthly Food Price Index released on Friday, indicates that food prices averaged 159.3 points in March, up 12.6 per cent from February, noting that it had reached its highest level since its inception in 1990. The Monthly price index which updates changes in the international prices of a basket of commonly-traded food commodities, said the worrying spike could be traced to the ranging Russia-Ukraine war. According to the report, Ukraine which has comparative advantage in wheat production, had been disabled by the conflict. It also noted that ” the latest level of the index was 33.6 per cent higher than in March 2021″.

FAO further expressed concerns that the price spike had affected almost the basic family needs products, like vegetable oils, cereals, and meat sub-indices, even those of sugar and dairy products. “The Russian Federation and Ukraine, combined, accounted for around 30 per cent and 20 per cent of global wheat and maize exports, respectively, over the past three years,” the report reads. “World wheat prices soared by 19.7 per cent during the month, exacerbated by concerns over crop conditions in the United States of America. Meanwhile, maize prices posted a 19.1 per cent monthon- month increase, hitting a record high along with those of barley and sorghum. “Contrasting trends across the various origins and qualities kept the March value of FAO’s Rice Price Index little changed from February, and thus still 10 per cent below its level of a year earlier.” Also, the report attributed the spike on prices to the loss of exports from the Black Sea region, said to have adversely affected wheat availability in the global market.

The report said, ” vegetable oil prices rose by 23.2 per cent, driven by higher quotations for sunflower seed oil, of which Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter. Palm, soy, and rapeseed oil prices also rose markedly as a result of the higher sunflower seed oil prices and the rising crude oil prices, with soy oil prices further underpinned by concerns over reduced exports by South America. ” Prices of sugar also rose by 6.7 per cent from February, reversing recent declines to reach a level more than 20 per cent higher than in March 2021.

 

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