ROME, ITALY —The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Food Price Monitor released on May 9 showed that wheat export prices are up, and corn (maize) prices are also firmer reflecting planting delays in the U.S.

Wheat and maize export prices rose slightly in April, while those of rice were generally stable but declined in Thailand. 

Export prices of wheat from the U.S. rose slightly in April after the sharp increase in March. The benchmark U.S. wheat price (No.2 Hard Red Winter, f.o.b.) averaged $340 per tonne, 5% above the year-earlier level. Prices continued to be supported by concerns over the 2014 winter crop conditions and delayed spring crop planting in the U.S., coupled with the escalation of political tensions in Ukraine. 

However, overall favorable prospects for the 2014 world wheat crop combined with expectations of large carryover stocks limited further gains. Wheat export prices from the Black Sea region remained relatively firm in April, while they increased in Kazakhstan and Argentina.

International maize prices strengthened marginally in April, with the benchmark U.S. maize value (No.2, Yellow) averaging $224 per tonne, still 21% below its level a year earlier.

Large global supplies from the 2013 record production offset the upward pressure on prices from strong exports and concerns that cold and wet weather conditions could delay planting of the 2014 maize crop in the U.S.

Export rice prices were generally stable in April, with the exception of those quoted in Thailand, which continued to fall. For instance, at $408 per tonne, the benchmark Thai white 100%B was 5% lower than in March. The price slump in the country mainly reflected large government sales, either through tenders or under the Agricultural Futures Exchange of Thailand (AFET). 

Failure by the country to be awarded part of the recent Philippines tender for 800,000 tonnes also contributed to the April slide. From a longer perspective, the price benchmark has shed more than 30% of its value since April 2013.