The benchmark for world food commodity prices edged higher in April, as rising meat prices and modest upticks for vegetable oils and cereals more than offset decreases for sugar and dairy products, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reported today (Friday, May 3).

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a set of globally-traded food commodities, averaged 119.1 points in April.

This was up by 0.3% from its revised March level, while down 9.6% from the same month in 2023.

FAO Food Price Index

The FAO Cereal Price Index rose 0.3% from March, ending a three-month declining trajectory.

The report said that global wheat export prices stabilised in April as strong competition among major exporters offset concerns about unfavorable crop conditions in parts of the EU, Russia and the US.

Maize export prices increased, influenced by high demand amid mounting logistical disruptions as a result of infrastructure damages in Ukraine and concerns about the production in Brazil ahead of the main harvest.

The FAO All-Rice Price Index declined by 1.8%, due largely to falls in Indica quotations driven by harvest pressure.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index also increased by 0.3% from March, reaching a 13-month high, as higher quotations for sunflower and rapeseed oil offset slightly lower prices for palm and soy oil.

meat business women Agri-food

The FAO Meat Price Index increased by 1.6% in April from the previous month, as international poultry, bovine and ovine meat prices all rose.

World pig meat prices fell marginally, reflecting slack internal demand in western Europe and persistently lacklustre demand from leading importers, especially China.

The FAO Sugar Price Index declined 4.4% from March to stand 14.7% below its April 2023 level due to improved global supply prospects.

The FAO Dairy Price Index decreased marginally, by 0.3%, ending six consecutive months of increases.

This was driven by sluggish spot import demand for skim milk powder and by lower world cheese prices, impacted by the strengthening of the US dollar.

The report noted that world butter prices increased amid steady import demand.

Wheat forecast

FAO has also slightly risen its forecast for the world total cereal production in 2023 to 2.8 billion tonnes, a 1.2% increase from the previous year.

The revision in new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief primarily reflects new information from Myanmar and Pakistan.

The forecast for world cereal utilisation was increased to 2.82 billion tonnes, mostly reflecting higher than previously anticipated feed use of maize and barley.

World cereal stocks are forecast to end the 2024 seasons at 890 million tonnes, a 2.1% increase from the outset of the year, pointing to a worldwide cereal stocks-to-use ratio of 30.9%.

FAO also adjusted its forecast for global wheat production in 2024, now standing at 791 million tonnes, less than previously expected but still marking an increase of 0.5% from 2023.

For coarse grain crops, the main harvest period begins soon in southern hemisphere countries, and recent adverse weather conditions have curbed yield prospects in leading producer countries, notably Brazil and South Africa.