FAO food price index sharply in April because of coronavirus
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals,oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 165.5 points last month, down 3.4% on March.
The FAO sugar price index fell to a 13-year low, plunging 14.6% from March, with the coronavirus crisis hitting demand and tumbling crude oil prices also reducing the need for sugarcane to produce ethanol, the Rome-based agency said.
The vegetable oil price index fell 5.2%, hit by falling palm, soy and rapeseed oil values, while the dairy index dropped 3.6%, with butter and milk powder prices posting double-digit declines.
The meat index shed 2.7%, with a partial recovery in import demand from China failing to balance a slump in imports elsewhere. FAO also said major producing countries suffered logistical bottlenecks, while coronavirus lockdowns in many nations had caused a sharp fall in sales.
“The pandemic is hitting both the demand and supply sides for meat, as restaurant closures and reduced household incomes lead to lower consumption and labour shortages on the processing side are impacting just-in-time production systems,” said FAO Senior Economist Upali Galketi Aratchilage.
By contrast with the other indices, FAO’s cereal price index declined only slightly, as international prices of wheat and rice rose significantly while those of maize dropped sharply.
Rice prices rose 7.2% from March, due in large part to temporary export restrictions by Vietnam that were subsequently repealed, FAO said. Wheat prices rose 2.5% amid reports of a quick fulfilment of the export quota from Russia.