January 5, 2011 / 9:39 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-FAO food price index hits record high in December

* Index tops levels reached during 2007/08 food crisis

* Rises for sixth month in a row

* Driven by surge in sugar prices, strong cereals, oils

(Adds sub indexes)

ROME, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Global food prices rose in December, with the FAO Food Price Index at a record high, the U.N Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Wednesday, past 2008 highs when rising food prices sparked riots in a number of countries.

Up for the sixth month in a row and fuelled by surging sugar prices and rises in cereals and oils, the index was the highest since records began in 1990, in nominal terms, and topped the high of 213.5 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08.

The index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket composed of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 214.7 points last month, up from 206.0 points in November.

The FAO’s Sugar Price Index soared to a record high of 398.4 points from 373.4 points in November.

Its Cereals Price Index, which includes prices of main food staples such as wheat, rice and corn, rose to an average of 237.6 points in December, the highest level since August 2008 and up from 223.3 points in November.

The Oils Price Index also jumped to 263.0 points in December from 243.3 points in November.

Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by Keiron Henderson

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