Global food markets still brace for uncertainty

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Agri-food sector is likely to show more resilience to the pandemic crisis than other sectors

Food markets will face many more months of uncertainty due to COVID-19, but the agri-food sector is likely to show more resilience to the pandemic crisis than other sectors, according to a new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The Food Outlook report provides the first forecasts for production and market trends in 2020-2021 for the world’s most traded food commodities – cereals, oilcrops, meat, dairy, fish and sugar.


In spite of uncertainties posed by the pandemic, FAO’s first forecasts for the 2020/21 season point to a comfortable cereal supply and demand situation. Early prospects suggest global cereal production in 2020 surpassing the previous year’s record by 2.6 percent.


World total meat production is forecast to fall by 1.7 percent in 2020, due to animal diseases, COVID-19-related market disruptions, and the lingering effects of droughts.

International meat trade is likely to register a moderate growth – but considerably slower growth than in 2019 – largely sustained by high imports from China.


The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to heavily affect seafood markets, particularly fresh products and popular restaurant species this year. On the supply side, fishing fleets are laying idle and aquaculture producers have drastically reduced stocking targets.


World production of sugar in 2019-2020 is forecast to drop for the second consecutive year and fall below the estimated level of global consumption – for the first time in three years.

Trade in sugar is foreseen to expand, sustained by low prices and stock rebuilding in some traditional importing countries.


Notwithstanding market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, world milk production is showing resilience, possibly growing by 0.8 percent in 2020. However, world dairy exports are expected to contract by 4 percent, amid faltering import demand.

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