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World food price index hits 17-month low in May: U.N.

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06/04/2020 | 04:23am EDT
Rungis International wholesale food market following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rungis

World food prices fell for a fourth consecutive month in May, hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic which has stymied demand, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food priceindex, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals,oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 162.5 points last month, down 1.9% on April.

It was the lowest monthly reading since December 2018.

The dairy index dropped 7.3%, led by sharp falls in both butter and cheese, partly because of lower import demand.

The cereal price index slipped 1% as coarse grain prices continued their decline, with U.S. maize prices some 16% down on the year, and wheat export prices falling, amid expectations of ample global supplies. International rice prices edged higher.

Vegetable oil prices fell 2.8% to a 10-month low, while the meat index slipped 0.8%. Poultry and pig meat quotations continued to fall, reflecting high export availabilities and despite an increase in import demand in East Asia.

Bucking the general downward trend, the sugar price index jumped 7.4% in April largely because of lower-than-expected harvests in some major producers, notably India and Thailand.

FAO also posted its first forecast for the 2020 cereal season, foreseeing global output of 2.780 billion tonnes -- a 2.6% increase on 2019's record harvest.

The U.N. agency said maize would account for much of the expected increase, rising a predicted 64.5 million tonnes to 1.207 billion tonnes thanks to anticipated record harvests in the United States, Canada and Ukraine, and near-record harvests in Brazil and Argentina.

Rice production was seen reaching an all-time high of 508.7 million tonnes in 2020, up 1.6% on 2019.

By contrast, global production of wheat in 2020 was forecast to drop, largely on the back of likely falls in the European Union, Ukraine and the United States, which would offset expected increases in Russian and Australia, FAO said.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer)

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHEESE FUTURES (CSC) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 0.23% 2.566 End-of-day quote.25.35%
CORN FUTURES (C) - CBR (FLOOR)/C1 -3.06% 340.5 End-of-day quote.-12.19%
EURO / ARGENTINE PESO (EUR/ARS) 0.32% 80.1981 Delayed Quote.19.20%
EURO / BRAZILIAN REAL (EUR/BRL) 0.36% 6.0284 Delayed Quote.33.76%
FEEDER CATTLE?FUTURES (GF) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 0.91% 135.75 End-of-day quote.-6.59%
LEAN HOGS (HE) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.05% 45.825 End-of-day quote.-35.63%
LIVE CATTLE (LE) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 0.93% 100.175 End-of-day quote.-19.81%
LONDON BRENT OIL -0.85% 42.45706 Delayed Quote.-35.88%
ROUGH RICE FUTURES (ZR) - CBE (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -9.75% 16.155 End-of-day quote.36.28%
THE GLOBAL LTD. -3.30% 205 End-of-day quote.-56.48%
US DOLLAR / ARGENTINE PESO (USD/ARS) 0.14% 70.86 Delayed Quote.18.36%
WHEAT FUTURES (W) - CBR (FLOOR)/C1 1.81% 535.75 End-of-day quote.-4.12%
WORLD CO., LTD. -5.40% 1420 End-of-day quote.-47.23%
WTI -0.12% 40.065 Delayed Quote.-35.40%
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