Bilans régionaux


Prices of beans continued to increase sharply in May, while those of maize generally decreased


In most countries of the subregion, prices of maize decreased in May following a return to normal market conditions, after the price spikes in the past two months, triggered by disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The notable exception was Nicaragua, where prices continued to increase and were more than 15 percent higher than a year earlier amid tighter domestic availabilities. In El Salvador, prices decreased in May and were below their year-earlier levels. On 13 May 2020, the Government received the remaining 17 000 tonnes of maize of the 50 000 tonnes purchased in late March to boost food reserves amid the pandemic (FPMA Food Policies). In Honduras, despite a decline in May, prices of maize remained higher year on year due to the reduced 2019 output. In Guatemala, prices held relatively steady for the second consecutive month in May, mainly as a result of imports from Mexico. In Mexico, the ongoing 2020 minor season harvest and a slight appreciation of the country’s currency exerted downward pressure on prices, which eased after the sharp increases in the past two months. However, prices were higher year on year on account of an expected reduced output and the sharp depreciation of the currency in the past months. Regarding beans, prices continued to increase in May albeit to a lesser extent than in the past months and remained at levels well above those a year earlier. In Guatemala, prices of black beans increased sharply for the third consecutive month and reached near-record levels due to low seasonal availabilities compounded by sustained demand triggered by the pandemic. Prices of black beans followed similar trends in Mexico, with a significant reduction in the 2019 main season output and strong prices in the international market sustaining the high level of prices. Prices of red beans continued to surge in El Salvador despite adequate market supplies and were some 40 percent higher than in May last year, underpinned by slow farmer selling and higher import costs. In Nicaragua, prices of red beans also continued to increase sharply in May mainly due to strong demand for export and were more than 60 percent higher year on year. By contrast, in Honduras, prices of red beans levelled off, after the surges in April, due to a return to normal market conditions and adequate supplies from the third season harvest. However, prices were nearly 60 percent above those a year earlier. In the Caribbean, prices of maize meal and black beans in Haiti continued to rise in April due to seasonal pressure compounded by concerns over the impact of the poor precipitation on the 2020 first season plantings. The application of restrictive measures and trade disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic also supported the increase in prices. A more stable currency and larger imports in the first quarter of 2020 contributed to keep prices of mostly imported rice relatively stable in most markets, although they remained above their year-earlier levels. In the Dominican Republic, prices of black beans also increased further in May, supported by the slight yearly decrease in market availabilities during the first four months of the year.