FAO's Food Price Index surges for record 12th consecutive month in May
World food prices surged in May, climbing for a record 12th consecutive month as supply chain issues sparked by the coronavirus pandemic combined to push prices nearly 40 percent above levels from a year earlier, according to data released on Thursday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The steep 4.8 percent month-on-month rise pushed the overall FAO Food Price Index to 127.1 points in May, 39.7 percent above its level a year ago. All major components of the index increased, with grain, cereal, vegetable oil and sugar prices all exceeding their April levels by at least 6 percent.
Grain and cereal prices, the largest component, rose 6.0 percent in May, pushed by higher prices for corn, barley and sorghum. But wheat prices fell in the second half of the month after surging over the first two weeks, while rice prices remained steady. In 2020, the overall index for grains and cereals climbed nearly 90 percent, the FAO said.
Palestinian farmer Mohammad Naim checks the growth of sugar canes at his farm in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Photo by Khaled Omar/Xinhua)
Prices for vegetable oils rose 7.8 percent in May, driven by increased prices for palm, soy and rapeseed oils, which climbed due to lower production in Asia. Sugar prices were 6.8 percent higher due to speculation about low yields in Brazil.
The other two major components saw more modest increases, with dairy prices inching 1.5 percent higher from April due to increased demand from China canceling rising supply from New Zealand. Meat prices, meanwhile, climbed 2.2 percent due to a steady increase in demand in east Asian countries, mainly China.
The monthly FAO Food Price Index is based on worldwide prices for 23 food commodity categories covering prices for 73 different products compared to a baseline year. The next index is scheduled for release on July 8.