War drives large increases in international prices for wheat, maize and vegetable oils: FAO

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FAO Food Price Index posts significant leap in March

World food commodity prices made a significant leap in March to reach their highest levels ever, as war in the Black Sea region spread shocks through markets for staple grains and vegetable oils, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 159.3 points in March, up 12.6 percent from February when it had already reached its highest level since its inception in 1990. The Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a basket of commonly-traded food commodities. The latest level of the index was 33.6 percent higher than in March 2021.

World wheat prices soared by 19.7 percent during the month, exacerbated by concerns over crop conditions in the United States of America. Meanwhile, maize prices posted a 19.1 percent month-on-month increase, hitting a record high along with those of barley and sorghum. Contrasting trends across the various origins and qualities kept the March value of FAO’s Rice Price Index little changed from February, and thus still 10 percent below its level of a year earlier.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose 23.2 percent, driven by higher quotations for sunflower seed oil, of which Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter. Palm, soy and rapeseed oil prices also rose markedly as a result of the higher sunflower seed oil prices and the rising crude oil prices, with soy oil prices further underpinned by concerns over reduced exports by South America.

 

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