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Global Food Commodity Prices Ease in October, Dairy Prices Fall

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by Judie Bizzozero -

Global food prices dipped in October, led lower by dairy products, averaging 27 percent below its all-time high reached in early 2011, according to the latest data from the UN’s Food Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Food Price Index averaged 176.4 points in October, down 1.3 percent from September while still up 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

The Cereal Price Index averaged 152.8 points in October, up a notch from September and 10.5 points (7.4 percent) higher than the same month last year. Wheat quotations were generally lower, pressured by large exportable supplies from the Black Sea and increased competition among exporters. Maize prices increased slightly in the United States, although those from South America were weighed down by large supplies. Rice prices strengthened in October, amid seasonally tight Japonica and fragrant supplies, with additional support for Japonica prices stemming from a series of tenders in the Far East.

The Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 170 points in October, down 1.8 points (1.1 percent) compared to the previous month and close to the level recorded one year ago. Palm oil values weakened on higher than anticipated inventory levels in Malaysia and the expectation of production gains in Southeast Asia, while soy oil prices eased on good soybean harvest progress in the United States and forecasts of ample global availabilities in 2017/18. Lower sunflower oil quotations, facilitated by large export availabilities in the Black Sea region, also weighed on the index.

The Dairy Price Index averaged 214.8 points in October, down 9.4 points (4.2 percent) from September and marking the first drop since May 2017. At that level, the index was 32 points (17.5 percent) above its value in October 2016, but 22 percent below its peak reached in February 2014. International quotations for butter, skim milk powder (SMP) and whole milk powder (WMP) eased in October, while cheese remained more stable. Butter and WMP prices fell as importers held back on purchases, awaiting arrival of new supplies from Oceania. Low demand and ample intervention stocks in the European Union hastened the decline of SMP prices. A balanced cheese market contributed to more stable cheese quotations.

The Sugar Price Index averaged nearly 203 points in October, down 1.4 points (0.7 percent) from September and as much as 112 points, or 36 percent, below the corresponding month last year. Sugar prices fell in October as the potential for higher supplies in 2017/18 was further reinforced with prospects for a larger beet crop in the European Union and bigger output in the Russian Federation. Weaker Brazilian Real, increasing the potential for larger export sales from Brazil, also weighed on international prices, especially in view of a significant slowdown in purchases by China because of higher import tariffs.

The Meat Price Index averaged 172.7 points in October, down 1.6 points (0.9 percent) from September and continuing a trend of moderate declines that began in July. International prices of pig and ovine meat declined in October, while those of bovine meat increased and of poultry were stable. Intense competition among exporters and sluggish import demand have been behind the declines in pig meat prices observed in recent months. Bovine meat prices rose for the third consecutive month due to limited spot offers from Oceania. A seasonal increase in ovine meat supplies in Oceania pushed down ovine prices, while poultry meat markets remained well balanced.
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