FAO's food price index declines in November amid cereals boom

by Holly Demaree
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Surge in maize output on course lifts cereals stock-to-use ratio to highest level in 2002.
 
ROME, ITALY – Global food prices declined marginally in November, as lower dairy prices offset a sharp increase in sugar and vegetable oil quotations, according to the latest FAO Food Price Index.

The index averaged 175.8 points in November, down 0.5% from the previous month while still up 2.3% from a year earlier.

The FAO also revised upward its global cereal forecasts and now expects worldwide supplies to rise to nearly 3.331 billion tonnes, an all-time high. The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. 

The November decline was driven by a 4.9% monthly drop in the FAO Dairy Price Index, as quotations for butter, cheese and whole and skim milk powders all fell, according to the FAO.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Index also rose 1.2% during the month, led by higher soy oil prices, while palm oil values declined due to higher-than-expected stock levels in Malaysia. 

The FAO Cereal Price Index registered a small rise in November, led by a 1.1% increase in international rice quotations.

The FAO sharply raised its forecast for global cereal production to 2.627 billion tonnes, some 13.4 million tonnes higher than its October projections, with the bulk of the increase mostly reflecting higher estimates for maize yields in the United States and a significant increase in maize plantings in Indonesia.

According to the FAO, global wheat production is now forecast at 754.8 million tonnes, while rice output is projected at 500.8 million tonnes, both just a notch below their 2016 record levels.

World cereal total utilization is now expected to increase by 1.2% in 2017-18 season, reaching 2.599 billion tonnes, with more rice and wheat being destined for direct human consumption and more coarse grains used for feeding animals.

World cereal inventories are set to rise to a record-high 726 million tonnes, according to the latest FAO projection. Global wheat and maize stocks are both expected to reach record levels.

Large stocks are seen to lift the global cereal stock-to-use ratio to 27.3% by the end of the 2017-18, its highest level in 16 years.
 
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