Earlier this year FAO GIEWS launched the National basic food prices-data and
analysis tool 1as part of the FAO Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP) to assist in the monitoring and analysis of domestic food price trends in developing countries. The database is constantly being expanded and improved and it now covers 864 monthly domestic retail/wholesale price series of major foods2 consumed in 68 developing countries, and international cereal export prices.
An analysis of the data contained in the database as of late October 2009 shows that domestic prices in developing countries remain high and in some cases are still at record levels as compared with the pre-food price crisis of the second half of 2007. Out of the 864 domestic price quotations (nominal, in local currencies) for all food commodities included in the database, the most recent quotation3 is the same or higher than in the pre-food price crisis period of 24 months earlier in 87 percent of the cases. Moreover, in 63 percent of these cases, the latest quotations are higher than 24 months earlier by more than 25 percent, indicating that even after allowing for inflation over the past two years, basic food prices remain relatively high. In 52 percent of the cases, latest quotations are higher than 3 months earlier, while in 11 percent of the cases, latest price quotations are the highest on record.
By contrast, in international markets, prices of all cereals have fallen back, with the exception of rice, to the levels before the food price crisis and are now well below their peaks of the first-half of 2008.
As compared to the analysis presented in the July issue of this bulletin there has been only a slight improvement in the situation. The number of cases where latest quotations are higher then 24 months earlier has diminished by 7 percent (from 94 to 87 percent) and that for the highest on record has fallen by 2 percent (from 13 to 11 percent). By contrast the number of cases where latest quotations are higher than 3 months earlier has risen by 6 percent (from 46 to 52 percent).
A more detailed analysis by region and main cereals is presented in the figures below. In sub-Saharan countries in Africa in 23 out of the 29 countries covered in the database (or 79 percent), latest cereal prices are more than 25 percent higher than 24 months earlier with rice in particular being higher in all countries covered. In Asia, cereal prices are monitored in 19 countries and in 13 of them (or 68 percent), they remain more than 25 percent higher than in the pre-food crisis period. In the Latin America and Caribbean region where prices are monitored for 17 countries, cereal prices are still more than 25 percent higher than in the pre-food crisis period in 8 of them, or 47 percent of the cases.
For all the 68 countries covered in the database, prices in about two thirds of the countries are more than 25 percent higher than in the pre-food crisis period for rice, wheat and millet/sorghum and for maize in about half of the countries. Latest cereal prices are higher than 3 months earlier in 40 of the 68 countries covered (or 59 percent of them), with a higher proportion of countries (20 out of 29 countries or 69 percent) in sub-Saharan Africa experiencing this situation.
As indicated earlier, international cereal export prices are much lower, by 35 to 56 percent, than their 2008 peaks and about the same or lower, with the exception of rice, than in the pre-crisis period of early 2007. Latest (October average) maize and sorghum export prices were about the same as of 24 months earlier, while for wheat they were 40 percent lower. By contrast, rice export prices in October were still 51 percent above the pre food-crisis level, mainly reflecting continuing governments' interventions in some major rice exporting countries.
2. About 70 percent of the quotations in the database are for cereals and cereal products with the remaining 30 percent represented by beans, potatoes, cassava and some animal products
3. The most recent price quotation refers, with few exceptions, to the period between July and October 2009