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World food prices have increased by 17.9 points or 12.6% month-on-month in March making a “giant leap” to a new historic high, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday. 

“The latest increase reflects new all-time highs for vegetable oils, cereals and meat sub-indices, while those of sugar and dairy products also rose significantly,” the FAO added.

The FAO food price index (FFPI) was at 159.3 points last month, also increasing by 40.1 points from March 2021.

FFPI is a trade-weighted index that tracks international market prices of five major food commodity groups.  

Vegetable oil price index surges to all-time high

The cereal price index rose by 46.2 points year-on-year in March and 24.9 points on a monthly basis to reach 170.1.

“This month’s increase reflected a surge in world prices of wheat and coarse grains, largely driven by conflict-related export disruptions from Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, the Russian Federation,” it added.

Possible exports loss from the Black Sea region and concerns over crop conditions in the US pushed world wheat prices up in March, it added.

The FAO vegetable oil price index reached a new all-time high in March by increasing 46.9 points from February and 89.3 points from March 2021 to 248.6.

“The sharp rise of the index was driven by higher sunflower, palm, soy and rapeseed oil prices. International sunflower seed oil quotations increased substantially in March, fueled by reduced export supplies amid the ongoing conflict in the Black Sea region,” the FAO said.

The FAO sugar price index averaged 117.9 points in March, rising 7.4 points or 6.7% from February. It was also up by 21.7 points from March 2021.

The increase in sugar stemmed from the sharp increase in international crude oil prices that raised possibilities of a greater use of sugarcane for ethanol production.

The FAO meat price index went up 5.5 points on a monthly and 19.2 points on a yearly basis in March to 120.

“The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 145.2 points in March, up 3.7 points from February, marking the seventh consecutive monthly increase and lifting the index 27.7 points (23.6 percent) above its value a year ago,” it added.

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