By Muhammed Ali Gurtas
Global food prices last year went down some 3.5 percent compared with 2017, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported Thursday.
The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 168.4 points for the whole of 2018, standing at almost 27 percent below the all-time high reached in 2011, according to the organization.
"While the international prices of all major cereals rose over the last year, those of the other tracked commodities declined, with sugar dropping the most," the FAO said.
The FFPI is calculated by the average of five commodity group price indices -- meat, dairy, cereal, vegetable oil, and sugar.
"Over the whole of 2018, the FAO Cereal Price Index averaged just over 165 points, some 9.0 percent higher than in 2017 but still 31 percent below its peak reached in 2011.
"Falling world output of wheat and maize contributed to the increase in prices during 2018, although overall global supplies of all the major cereals remained more than sufficient, leaving inventories still at high levels," said UN’s food body.
Falling 15 percent on a yearly basis, the FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 144 points last year -- the lowest level since 2007 -- "with palm oil prices registering the largest decline amid weak global demand accompanied by an accumulation of stocks in major producing countries."
In 2018, the FAO Meat Price Index was down 2.2 percent on an annual basis.
"The year-on-year decline reflected drops in the prices of pig and poultry meats, which more than offset higher ovine meat quotations," the FAO said, adding that in bovine meat markets, prices remained close to their 2017 levels.
The organization stated that the FAO Dairy Price Index declined by 4.6 percent from 2017, "as a result of declines in the prices of all dairy products during the second half of the year."
"Overall for 2018, the FAO Sugar Price Index fell by almost 22 percent year-on-year, underpinned by ample world production and accumulating inventories," it said.