The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 214 points in April 2012, down 3 points (or 1.4 per cent) from March. The decline was largely driven by falls in sugar and dairy prices followed by cereals which more than offset strong gains in oils and a slight rise in meat prices. The FFPI moved up steadily in the first quarter of 2012 and while it fell in April, it still remained above the December 2011 level, which was the lowest in over a year.
The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 224 points in April, down 4 points (nearly two per cent) from March. Maize quotations declined most, by 2.5 per cent, reflecting good production prospects. Wheat prices fell slightly, by just over 1 percent, while rice values were also down marginally. Compared to April last year, the index was down 16 per cent.
The FAO Oils/Fats Price Index averaged 251 points in April, up another 6 points (or 2.2 per cent) from March. Following a surge in soybean prices, the rise mainly reflects growing concern about this season’s exceptionally tight supplies of soybeans and derived products. Reduced export availabilities of soy have increased global demand for palm oil, which, however, continues to face weak production growth and hence rising prices.
The FAO Meat Price Index averaged 182 points in April, up marginally (1 point) from the previous month and a new record. The increase was driven by rising quotations of all meats except sheep. Pig meat prices rose most, followed by bovine and poultry meat. On average, meat prices in the first four months were 3.5 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year, with bovine showing the strongest gains on continued tight export supplies and brisk import demand.
The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 186 points in April, down 11 points (six per cent) from March and the third consecutive monthly decline. Prices of all dairy products retreated in April. The prevailing downward trend reflects a rebuilding of supplies especially in Oceania and South America.
The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 324 points in April, down 18 points (five per cent) from March and as much as 22 points (six per cent) below their level in April 2011. Overall, sugar prices traded lower as new supplies from Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer, are expected to enter the market in May. Larger availabilities were also reported in India, the EU and Thailand, which contributed to keeping prices below their high levels of last season.