Food prices rose to a new record high in March: UN agency

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 159.3 points last month, up from 141.4 in February

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 159.3 points last month, up from 141.4 in February

World food prices rose to a new record high in March as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staple foods and cooking oils, the UN food agency said on Friday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index, which tracks the world’s most traded groceries, averaged 159.3 points last month from an upwardly revised reading of 141.4 for February.

The February number was previously reported as 140.7, which was a record at the time.

Russia and Ukraine are both major exporters of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil across the Black Sea, and Moscow’s six-week invasion of its neighbor has paralyzed Ukrainian exports.

The FAO warned last month that the conflict in Ukraine could cause food and feed prices to rise by as much as 20%, triggering a rise in global malnutrition.

The agency on Friday also lowered its estimate of global wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tons from a forecast of 790 million tons last month, as it factored in the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine’s winter-cropped area would go unharvested.

It lowered its forecast for global grain trade in the 2021/22 marketing year as the disruption in Black Sea exports was only partially offset by increased exports from India, the European Union, Argentina and the United States.

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