Rome (AFP) April 7, 2011
World food prices fell for the first time in eight months in March after record highs largely due to oil prices, though the situation remains volatile, the UN's food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation's Food Price Index dropped to an average 230 points in March, down 2.9 percent from its peak in February, but still 37 percent above March 2010, the Rome-based agency said.
"The decrease in the overall index this month brings some welcome respite," said David Hallam, director of the FAO's trade and market division.
"But it would be premature to conclude that this is a reversal of the upward trend," he added.
The FAO index, which monitors average monthly prices for key staples, showed international prices for oils, sugar and cereals in particular had dropped.
Rice prices also fell, largely as a result of abundant supply in exporting countries and sluggish import demand. By contrast, dairy and meat prices rose.
"The biggest story is the oil sector, that's the driver behind the decline in prices," said Abdolreza Abbassian, FAO economist and grains analyst.
"The drop was driven by sell-offs in the market, but didn't last," he said.
"We saw a decline only in the first two weeks of March. In the second half of the month prices rebounded. Most of the price increase is not captured in this index but is likely to be reflected in the next one," he said.
March was also extremely volatile for grains, largely due to growing economic uncertainties and the turmoil in North Africa and parts of the Near East as well as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the FAO said.
"We need to see the information on new plantings over the next few weeks to get an idea of future production levels," Hallam said.
"But low stock levels, the implications for oil prices of events in the Middle East and North Africa and... Japan all make for continuing uncertainty and price volatility over the coming months," he said.
The oil and fats price index fell 19 points in March, breaking nine months of consecutive increases, while the sugar price index averaged 372 points -- down as much as 10 percent from the highs of January and February.
The dairy price index averaged 234 points, up 1.9 percent from the previous month and 37 percent above its level in March 2010, while the meat price index changed little from its February levels at an average of 169 points.
"As we have said before, this crisis will be volatile. The prices are still at very high levels. It all depends on the 2011 harvest. The market is not going to ignore uncertainty for at least the next six months," Abbassian said.
World food prices hit record highs at the beginning of the year and the agency had warned in March that oil price spikes could push them even higher as increasing violence in Libya sent jitters through commodity markets.
"With many poor communities already feeling the effects of higher food prices and grain stocks in the main food exporting countries at dangerously low levels, sighs of relief in response to today's announcement by the FAO would be premature," Oxfam's policy advisor Luca Chinotti said in a statement.
"Food remains far too expensive for many poor people," he said.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
College Park MD (SPX) Apr 07, 2011
Most people experience X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanners when they are evaluated for a suspected tumor or blood clot. But in the lab of Dr. Quin Liu, PhD., in Wuhan China, rice plants were the patients in a novel use of CT scanners as part of an agriculture study to increase rice yield. Into the CT scanner on a conveyor belt went little potted rice plants in an automated facility tha ... read more
Arctic Ice Gets A Check Up|
Record Loss Of Ozone Over Arctic
Response To Japan's Disaster Relief Efforts
Earth Movements From Japan Earthquake Seen From Space
Make Your Satnav Idea A Reality
GPS Study Shows Wolves More Reliant On A Cattle Diet
Galileo Labs: Better Positioning With Concept
Compact-Sized GLONASS/GPS Receiver
Low Fertilizer Use Drives Deforestation In West Africa
Drought-Exposed Leaves Adversely Affect Soil Nutrients
Long-term effect of drought on trees seen
Mangroves Among The Most Carbon-Rich Forests In The Tropics
Economics, Physics Are Roadblocks For Mass-Scale Algae Biodiesel Production
Advance Toward Making Biodegradable Plastics From Waste Chicken Features
Short Rotation Energy Crops Could Help Meet UK's Renewable Energy Targets
Boeing Issues First Latin American Study On Jatropha Sustainability
BlueChip Energy Announces Development Of 40MW Solar Farm In Florida
Industry Analyst Predicts 50 Percent Drop In Solar Project Costs
SolarBridge Named 2011 Edison Best New Product Awards Gold Winner
Nanoparticles Improve Solar Collection Efficiency
Manitoba wind farm comes online
Alstom Announces Commercial Operation Of First North American Wind Farms
Vestas unveils new offshore turbine
US hopes to resolve China wind turbine rift
Wyoming to expand coal mining
China mine explosion kills 11, two missing
Wyoming coal leases to be auctioned
Japan crisis must not spark rush to fossil fuels: Sweden
China warns world not to interfere in artist case
Under fire, US eyes Internet to reach Chinese
China state paper rejects calls for artist's release
Bob Dylan makes China debut
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|