International food commodity prices have declined for the eleventh consecutive month in February 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has said.

The decline reflects lower quotations for vegetable oils and dairy products, which have more than offset a steep rise in sugar prices, according to the most recent FAO Food Price Index.

At an average of 129.8 points last month, the FAO Food Price Index has dropped by 0.6% from January 2023, however, compared to its peak in March 2022 the index is down by 18.7%.

Food price index

The price index for cereal remained virtually unchanged from January, with international wheat prices up marginally during February, according to the FAO.

After falling for three consecutive months, international wheat prices rose marginally by 0.3% in February, while world maize prices were up 0.1% month-on-month, the index shows.

International prices for vegetable oil dropped by 3.2% last month, with the world prices of palm, soy, sunflowerseed and rapeseed oils all lower in February.

Dairy and meat

A 2.7% decline in the price index for dairy was driven by lower prices across all dairy products, with the steepest falls recorded for butter and skim milk powder (SMP), the FAO said.

The food price index for dairy remains 7.2% below 2022 levels, with the continued weakness in global import demand underpinning the price declines.

While the meat price index remained unchanged from January internationally, the FAO said prices were 1.7% below their 2022 value in February.

World poultry prices continued to decline amid abundant global supplies, notwithstanding avian influenza outbreaks in several leading producer countries.

bird flu dafm

International pig meat prices rose, mostly due to concerns over tighter export availabilities in Europe. Bovine meat prices were stable, while ovine meat prices also remained broadly unchanged.

The sugar price index rose by 6.9% to its highest level in six years, largely due to a downward revision to India’s production forecast, and lower international crude oil prices and ethanol prices in Brazil.

Food security

Droughts, conflict and high prices are exacerbating food insecurity in many countries, with 45 countries globally now assessed to need external assistance for food, the FAO said.

Some people in six countries -Burkina Faso, Haiti, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan – are experiencing, or expected to experience soon, severe levels of acute food insecurity.

Even as the FAO Food Price Index has eased somewhat in recent months, domestic food price inflation is at prohibitively high levels in many countries, according to the FAO.

For instance, coarse grain prices in Ghana in January were 150% higher than a year earlier, and grain prices were at all-time highs in Malawi and Zambia.