food prices steady in December, down in 2013: FAO
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[January 10, 2014]
ROME (Reuters) — Global food prices
rose slightly in December after staying flat the month before, but
prices on average declined 1.6 percent in 2013 versus the previous
year, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which
measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds,
dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 206.7 points in December, a marginal
rise from a revised 206.4 in November.
FAO said large supplies pushed down international prices of oils,
sugar, and cereals except for rice.
But the decrease in prices in those markets was balanced by an
opposite trend in meat and dairy, which hit records in 2013
according to FAO.
FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian told Reuters by telephone
that he saw ample supply and good opportunities for rebuilding
inventories as likely to continue to weigh on cereals prices for the
next few months.
"This situation is likely to keep some downward pressure on the
grain sector for still some months to come," Abbassian said.
Demand-driven increases in higher meat and dairy prices could taper,
"Considering how high they are... perhaps the scope for stronger
increases in the next few months are much less than in the last few
months," Abbassian said.
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Record harvests drove down cereals prices particularly in wheat and
maize over 2013, and the average cereals price index for December
was 191.5 points, its lowest since August 2010.
Meanwhile, the dairy price index averaged 243 in 2013, its highest
annual average ever, FAO said. Demand from Japan and China drove up
beef in particular, and the meat index was at historically high
levels in 2013, FAO said.
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; editing by
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