The United Nations food agency's global price index remained stable in November amid decline in international prices of cereals, meat and dairy products driven by the agreement to prolong a UN-backed grain export channel from Ukraine.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 135.7 points in November, down from 135.9 for October, the agency said on Friday.
It pointed out that the figures published mark an eighth straight monthly fall since a record high in March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lower readings for cereals, meat and dairy products in November offset higher prices for vegetable oils and sugar, the FAO said.
The slight decrease in November meant that the FAO food index is now only 0.3% above its level a year earlier, the agency added.
Last month's agreement to prolong a UN-backed grain export channel from Ukraine for another 120 days has tempered worries about war disruption to massive Black Sea trade.
The FAO Cereal Price Index declined by 1.3% from the previous month, but it was still up 6.3% from its value a year ago.
World wheat and maize prices declined in November by 2.8% and 1.7%, respectively, partly influenced by the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index increased by 2.3% in November, ending seven consecutive months of decline. International palm and soy oil prices rose, while those of rapeseed and sunflower oils dropped.
The FAO Sugar Price Index rose 5.2% in November, influenced by strong buying trend amid tight global sugar supplies due to harvest delays in key producing countries and the announcement by India of a lower sugar export quota.
In separate cereal supply and demand estimates, the FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2022 to 2.756 billion tons from 2.764 billion estimated last month.
The forecast was 2% below the estimated output for 2021 and would mark a three-year low, the agency noted.
The agency further stated on Friday that 45 countries around the world, including 33 in Africa, nine in Asia, two in Latin America and the Caribbean and one in Europe, are assessed to be in need of external assistance for food due to conflicts, extreme weather events and soaring inflation rates.
Separately, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) launched on Thursday the Global Humanitarian Appeal for 2023 with a record $51.5 billion required to reach 230 million people in crisis.
As part of the appeal, the FAO said that it would need $1.9 billion to reach 48 million who rely on agriculture and subsistence farming, with lifesaving and livelihood assistance in 2023.