Latest information confirms another above-average cereal output in 1999, of 1 866 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms). However, at this level, production would be less than the anticipated consumption requirements in 1999/2000 and stocks, which have built-up over the past three years, would have to be drawn down.
Food emergencies persist in many countries throughout the world, mainly due to the effects of natural disasters, civil strife and economic crises. Currently, 52 million people are estimated to be facing food shortages of varying intensity in 35 countries worldwide (see page 6).
World trade in cereals in 1999/2000 is forecast to increase by nearly 4 percent, to 221 million tonnes, 8 million tonnes up from the previous year. The bulk of the increase is expected in wheat and coarse grains, while rice imports are tentatively forecast to remain virtually unchanged.
International cereal prices weakened further since September, mostly reflecting good harvest results. Prices for wheat and coarse grains remain below those a year ago, and the FAO Rice Export Price Index in October averaged the lowest level in the past five years.
World cassava production and consumption are forecast to rise in 1999. Although international trade in cassava products is expected to recover partly from the slump in 1998, demand remains generally sluggish and world cassava prices have fallen to record low levels.
International prices for dairy products may show a moderate increase during the remainder of 1999 and into 2000, as a result of limited stocks in the main exporting countries and sustained import demand.
World sugar prices fell to a 13-year low in early 1999 reflecting abundant supplies, and the outlook is for continuing weak prices in the remainder of 1999. FAO tentatively forecasts global production will exceed consumption again in 1999/2000 for the sixth consecutive year, and stocks will rise further.