ROME Jan 9 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 Organisation'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, however.
"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.
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.