World food prices rise for the third straight month
World food prices rose for the third consecutive month in February, rising 1.7 percent compared to January, led by a 5.6-percent rise in dairy prices, according to the Food Price Index released Thursday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Despite the rise that started in December, prices remained 2.3 percent below their level a year ago.
The index ended February at 167.5 points, compared to 164.8 points in January.
Prices for rice and cereals, the biggest component in the FAO index, were steady for the third consecutive month. Prices for rice and wheat did not move at all, while corn prices were marginally higher.
Among the other components in the index, prices for oils and fats rose 1.8 percent, as palm oil process pushed higher based on seasonal issues. The FAO meat index climbed a modest 0.7 percent, led by higher beef and pork prices pushed by more demand from importers. Poultry prices were unchanged. Prices for sugars were 1.2 percent higher due to lower production in India and parts of Brazil.
The 5.6-percent increase in dairy prices came after big increases in powdered milk prices, due to a slight drop in production from Australia and New Zealand and increased demand from traditional importers. The dairy index is about even with its level from a year ago.
The monthly FAO Food Price Index is based on worldwide prices for 23 food commodity categories covering prices for 73 different products compared to a baseline year. The next index is scheduled to be released on April 4.