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Global food prices 'declined significantly' in July but still up from last year, says UN agency

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By Euronews
A worker holds a handful of wheat at the Modern Mills of Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, April 12, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Hussein Malla

Global food prices "declined significantly" last month, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday, warning however of persisting uncertainties over future production. 

The FAO Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, averaged 140.9 points in July, down 8.6 per cent from June.

This was the steepest monthly fall in the value of the index since October 2008 as well as the fourth consecutive month-on-month decline.

The Index nevertheless remained 13.1 per cent higher than in July 2021.

“The decline in food commodity prices from very high levels is welcome, especially when seen from a food access viewpoint," FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero said in a statement.

"However, many uncertainties remain, including high fertilizer prices that can impact future production prospects and farmers’ livelihoods, a bleak global economic outlook, and currency movements, all of which pose serious strains for global food security," he added. 

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index registered the biggest decline, dropping by 19.2 per cent in July from June to reach its lowest level in 10 months. 

The Cereal Price Index, meanwhile, declined by 11.5 per cent from June but remained 16.6 per cent above its July 2021 level. 

The month-on-month drop was led by a sharp decline in wheat prices (-14.5 per cent) that is partly attributed to the market reaction to the announcement that Moscow and Kyiv had reached a deal to allow for the safe export of millions of tonnes of grains stuck in Ukrainian ports as well as to seasonal availability from ongoing harvests in the northern hemisphere.

The indices for sugar, dairy and meat also fell but to a lesser extent.

The FAO Food Price Index reached a record high of 159.7 points in March, rising 12.6 per cent from February when it had already reached its highest level since its inception in 1990, due to Russia's war on Ukraine. 

Together, Russia and Ukraine, accounted for around 30 per cent and 20 per cent of global wheat and maize exports, respectively, over the past three years, according to the FAO.