ROME — World food prices continued their gains from last year in January, rising 4.3 percent for the most, pushed higher for the eighth consecutive month by rising prices for grains and cereals, sugar, and vegetable oils, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported Thursday.
FAO said the overall index in January was at its highest level since July 2014. Grains and cereals, the largest component in the index, saw prices rise 7.1 percent since December, the seventh straight month it rose.
Corn prices were the biggest factor in the monthly increase, surging 11.2 percent — 42.3 percent above their level from one year ago. FAO said the biggest factors in corn prices were lower-than-expected production in the United States, production worries from South America, and increased demand from China.
Wheat prices also rose due to speculation of lower exports from Russia, while high demand in Asia and Africa pushed rice prices higher.
FAO said sugar prices rose 8.1 percent from December 2020, with production seen as falling in the European Union, while vegetable oil prices were 5.8-percent higher due in part to lower palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Dairy and meat prices also rose, though more modestly. Dairy prices were 1.6-percent higher in January, pushed by increased seasonal demand from China ahead of the country’s New Year holiday festivities. The same factor resulted in higher meat prices, which rose by 1.0 percent after higher production levels from Oceania helped compensate for the higher demand.
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 March 4, 2021.