Global food prices up as bad weather hits supplies

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Workers stacking large sacks from conveyor belt. Pakistan. Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Bad weather conditions in key food producing countries coupled with increased demand and security concerns pushed global food prices up sharply during the month of February according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

FAO says its food price index rose by 2.6 per cent during the month of February, the sharpest increase since mid-2012.

Sugar, oils, cereals and dairy products registered the strongest increases since January, while wheat and corn prices have gone up in response to recent developments between Ukraine and Russia.

FAO says several countries including Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and the Central African Republic continue to grapple with food insecurity under emergency conditions.

Concepción Calpe, a Senior Economist at FAO says retail prices are not expected to go up immediately.

"It reflects more on the side of the importer, how much they will have, what price they will face when buying the supplies and for exporters how much they will get when they sell the commodities. Before that translates into a change at the retail or wholesale level takes time. It's not automatic that you see international prices rising and immediately see that reflected in domestic market. There is a lag. Because 2013 crops were very good in general, the stock situation is much better. So this initial stock rebuilding that has been made possible in 2013 will help considerably for 2014."

FAO says favourable 2014 crop prospects are expected to bring some improvement in a number of countries in Southern Africa, following previous low harvests, but tighter maize supplies and high food prices are expected to continue impacting on the most vulnerable population groups.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1.57″

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