UN Food and Agriculture Organization - UNFAO
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global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

No. 1 - Rome, February 2002



Global cereal output in 2001 is provisionally estimated at 1 880 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms), slightly up from the forecast in December and 1.2 percent up on the previous year. However, with global cereal utilization in 2001/02 still forecast to be well above this level at 1 935 million tonnes, the global cereal stocks will be drawn down significantly.

While overall food supply prospects for 2002 are more favourable than in the past two years, millions of people in developing countries still need emergency food assistance due to natural and man-made disasters (see box on page 6).

Early indications point to a larger global wheat crop in 2002 as some northern hemisphere countries have reported larger winter plantings and a general recovery in yields is expected in many regions after drought in 2001. Weather conditions for the first 2002 coarse grain crops are generally favourable in southern Africa but unfavourable in parts of South America. The main northern hemisphere crops are yet to be planted. Prospects for the 2002 paddy crops in the southern hemisphere are uncertain in the light of less than ideal weather in several countries.

World cereal trade in 2001/02 is forecast at 236 million tonnes, 2 million tonnes above the previous year. Imports of wheat and rice are forecast to increase by 4 million tonnes and 1 million tonnes respectively, more than offsetting a 2 million tonnes decline expected for coarse grains.

International wheat prices remain largely unchanged since the last report, while those for coarse grains weakened slightly. In general, grain prices remain mostly below those at the corresponding time in the previous season, reflecting abundant market supplies, even if not from the traditional major exporters. International rice prices showed some signs of recovery over the past two months but continue to show significantly divergent trends according to type and origin.

Growth in meat output in 2001 was the lowest in two decades, largely the result of animal disease outbreaks and sluggish economic growth during the year. Trade also stagnated, the year being marked by market disruptions and trade diversion. International meat prices, as represented by the FAO index, dropped 2 points over the course of the year, despite strong gains for meats other than beef.

World fish production in 2000 increased to a record 130 million tonnes. Total world trade in fish and fishery products in 2000 (in export value) also increased, rising 3 percent over the preceding year's level.

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