ROME (Reuters) - World food prices rose in February, lifted in part by a jump in dairy prices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 167.5 points last month, up 1.7 percent on January.
Despite the rise, the index was still 2.3 percent below its level of this time last year.
The FAO dairy price index jumped 5.6 percent from January’s value, driven by strong import demand for skim milk powder, whole milk powder and cheese.
FAO’s vegetable oil price index rose 1.8 percent from the previous month, while its sugar index rose 1.2 percent and its cereal index made marginal gains on January. The meat price index was also slightly stronger.
FAO lowered its latest world cereal production forecast for 2018 to 2.609 billion tonnes, against the 2.611 billion it forecast a month ago.
“The latest revision rests almost entirely on a lower estimate for the United States’ maize output and reinforces an overall year-on-year decrease in global cereal production,” FAO said.
The U.N. agency also made its first forecast for world wheat production in 2019, estimating it at 757 million tonnes — four percent above the 2018 level but short of the record high registered in 2017.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer