ROME, Italy - Global food prices dropped 3.5% last year according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report published on Thursday.
The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 168.4 points for 2018, nearly 27% below the all-time high set in 2011.
"While the international prices of all major cereals rose over the last year, those of the other tracked commodities declined, with sugar dropping the most," the FAO said in its report.
The FFPI is calculated using the average of five commodity group price indices - meat, dairy, cereal, vegetable oil, and sugar.
"Over the whole of 2018, the FAO Cereal Price Index averaged just over 165 points, some 9.0% higher than in 2017 but still 31% below its peak reached in 2011.
"Falling world output of wheat and maize contributed to the increase in prices during 2018, although overall global supplies of all the major cereals remained more than sufficient, leaving inventories still at high levels," said the UN food body.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 144 points lin 2018, the lowest level in more than a decade, "with palm oil prices registering the largest decline amid weak global demand accompanied by an accumulation of stocks in major producing countries."
In 2018, the FAO Meat Price Index was down 2.2% on an annual basis.
"The year-on-year decline reflected drops in the prices of pig and poultry meats, which more than offset higher ovine meat quotations," the FAO said, adding that in bovine meat markets, prices remained close to their 2017 levels.
The organization stated that the FAO Dairy Price Index declined by 4.6 percent from 2017, "as a result of declines in the prices of all dairy products during the second half of the year."
"Overall for 2018, the FAO Sugar Price Index fell by almost 22% year-on-year, underpinned by ample world production and accumulating inventories," the FAO said.
Global food prices held broadly stable in December, with rising international cereal prices offsetting declining sugar and dairy quotations.
The FAO Food Price Index averaged 161.7 points in December, compared to a revised level of 161.6 points in the previous month.
While the international prices of all major cereals rose over the last year, those of the other tracked commodities declined, with sugar dropping the most.
The FAO Cereal Price Index increased by 1.8 percent in December from November and 9.6 percent from December 2017. Wheat and maize prices rose during the month, due to weather effects in the southern hemisphere, while rice prices declined for the sixth successive month. FAO's most recent forecasts anticipate global output of wheat and maize to fall in 2019 while that of rice to set a new record. Global suppliers of all the major cereals are more than sufficient and inventories are still ample, the agency says.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose by 0.4 percent in December, ending ten consecutive months of decline, led by a rebound in palm oil prices. International soy oil prices continued to drift downward, impacted by ample supplies in the United States and weak demand in the European Union. The sub-index averaged 15 percent lower in 2018 than in the previous year, with palm oil prices posting the largest decline.
The FAO Meat Price Index posted an a 0.8 percent increase during the month, led by a recovery in pigmeat prices, which were supported by strong global import demand, especially from Brazil.
The FAO Dairy Price Index declined by 3.3 percent from November, marking its seventh successive monthly drop, led by lower price quotations for butter, cheese and whole milk powder. The index fell by 4.6 percent from 2017, as a result of declines in the prices of all dairy products during the second half of the year.
The FAO Sugar Price Index fell by 1.9 percent in the month, in part due to reportedly faster sugar production growth in India and in part to falling international prices of crude oil, which lower the demand for sugarcane to produce ethanol while boosting supplies for the production of sugar, notably in Brazil, the world's largest producer. Overall for 2018, the index fell by almost 22 percent from 2017.