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FAO Food Price Index dips again in April, led by sugar and vegetable oils

Updated forecasts point to weakening trade volumes and robust supply conditions for wheat and maize

Photo: ©FAO/Vyacheslav Oseledko
Goats in Kyrgyzstan.

4 May 2017, Rome-Global food commodity prices fell in April amid expectations of ongoing robust supplies of many key staples.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 168 points in April, down 1.8 percent from March although remaining 10 percent higher than a year earlier.

The Sugar Price Index led the decline, dropping 9.1 percent on the month as large export supplies from Brazil met with continued weak global import demand.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index fell 3.9 percent on the month, pushed down by weakening demand for palm oil and expectations of bumper soy harvests and plantings in South and North America.

FAO's Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index tracking international market prices of five major food commodity groups.

The Cereal Price Index also shed 1.2 percent in April, pushed down by sagging wheat prices even as international rice prices firmed.

The Dairy Price Index fell 3.3 percent as production in the northern hemisphere entered peak season, allying short-term sourcing concern.

By contrast, the FAO Meat Price Index rose 1.7 percent, as pigmeat prices increased in response to strong domestic demand in the European Union and increased sales to China.

Maize on the march, wheat in retreat

FAO updated its global cereal production forecasts for 2017, which now point to a likely 0.4 percent annual decline from 2016 even as the pace of utilization grows by around one percent.

The net result of the new projections, released today with the Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, would be a drop in the cereal stocks-to-use ratio in 2017/18 to 25.8 percent, still a comfortably high figure in historical terms but slightly below the current season's level.

The new global cereal output forecast was raised from the April figures, as Brazil appears poised to enjoy stronger-than-expected maize yields, lifting the global output for that crop to 1 054 million tonnes. Projected global rice output remained stable at 506 million tonnes, while the forecast for wheat - 740 million tonnes - was also unchanged as expected smaller crops in Australia, Canada, the Russian Federation and the United States are offset by likely expansions in the European Union, India and Morocco.

On the consumption side in 2017/18, abundant maize and other coarse grains are expected to push up use for livestock in China and South America, while rice utilization is expected to grow 1.2 percent due to expanding food intake.

Global inventories by the end of seasons in 2018 are forecast, as a result, to nearly match the levels at the opening of the year, although their composition is seen changing somewhat. Wheat stocks are set to expand by 3.3 percent to reach a new high of 247.6 million tonnes, driven mostly by China, which, on the other hand, is drawing down its accumulated coarse grain reserves by almost 20.5 million tonnes.

International trade in both wheat and coarse grains is forecast to decline in volume terms, while trade in rice is increasing, driven by strong demand in the Near East and in Africa.

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