ROME (Reuters) - World food prices rose for the first time in five months in October, boosted by jumps in quotations for sugar and cereals, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.7 points in October, up 1.7% on the previous month and 6.0% year-on-year.
FAO also predicted that cereal production would be 2.704 billion tonnes in 2019, slightly lower than its last forecast.
The FAO sugar price index jumped 5.8% from September levels, largely because of expectations of lower supplies in the year ahead following forecasts of large reductions in sugar output in India and Thailand.
The cereal price index rose 4.2%, with wheat and maize export prices climbing on the back of reduced crop prospects in several major producing countries and “robust trade activity”. By contrast, rice prices fell, hit by subdued demand and expectations of an abundant basmati harvest.
The vegetable oil price index increased 0.5% to reach its highest level in more than a year, while the meat price index rose 0.9%, driven by higher import demand especially from China.
By contrast, the dairy price index dropped 0.7% in October, as lower quotations for cheese offset increases in those for skimmed and whole milk powders, FAO said.
FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by some 2 million tonnes, pegging world cereal output at 2.704 billion tonnes, but still up 1.8% from 2018 levels.
The U.N. agency said worldwide coarse grain production in 2019 was seen at 1.425 billion tonnes, down 1.3 million on the previous forecast.
Wheat output was seen at 765 million tonnes, down nearly 1 million tonnes on the last outlook, but still on course to set a new record and up 4.5% on 2018 levels.
The forecast for global rice production was put at 513.4 million tonnes, little changed on the previous forecast and slightly below 2018 levels.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer