BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — International prices of wheat which had fallen in May and June continued to decline in July, the Food and Agricultural Association (FAO) said in its Aug. 9 Global Food Price Monitor.

The benchmark U.S. wheat price (No. 2 Hard Red Winter, f.o.b.) averaged $308 per tonne, down 8% from its June level. Wheat prices remained 45% higher than a year earlier although they are 36% below their peaks in 2008. The decline in July mainly reflected pressure from the 2011 winter wheat harvest in the U.S. and Europe, as well as large export availabilities expected in the Black Sea region in the 2011-12 marketing season.

Export prices of maize decreased somewhat in July, with the benchmark U.S. maize price (Yellow, No. 2, f.o.b.) averaging $304 per tonne, still 89% above its level of a year ago. Maize prices declined in early July after the U.S. revised upwards the estimates of their 2011 planted area and 2010-11 carryover stocks for maize.

However, concerns about dry weather in the key growing areas of the U.S. in the second half of the month provided support.

Export prices of rice increased for the second consecutive month in July. The benchmark Thai rice price (Thai white rice 100% B) averaged $556 per tonne, 6% higher than in June and 20% above its level in July 2010. The recovery was mainly supported by the prospect of changes in the support price policy in Thailand, the largest rice exporter, which could result in much higher export quotations, and the prospect of a sharp cut in production in the U.S., the third largest rice supplier.

In Eastern Africa, cereal prices are at generally high levels with new peaks reached in several countries. In Western and Southern Africa, prices of coarse grains remained overall low despite some seasonal increases.

In Far East Asia, domestic prices of rice and wheat are moving upward. In CIS countries, prices of wheat remained virtually unchanged despite ongoing harvests. In Central America, maize and bean prices are at record or near record levels.