Lower global food commodity prices in December contributed to an overall 13.7% year-over-year decline in 2023, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a set of globally-traded food commodities, averaged 118.5 points in December, down 1.5% from November and down 10.1% from December 2022.
The FAO Meat Price Index dipped 1.0% from November, reaching a level 1.8% below that of December 2022. FAO said the decline was attributed to persistent weak pork import demand from Asia. Further, regional buying interest also slowed for beef and poultry despite ample exportable supplies in large producing regions. Ovine meat prices by contrast rose ahead of holidays, the organization reported.
The FAO Meat Price Index averaged 114.6 points in 2023, down 3.5% from 2022. FAO said this was the result of increased export availabilities from leading exporting regions amid subdued import demand by key meat-importing countries.
The FAO Cereal Price Index increased 1.5% from November, as wheat, maize, rice, and barley prices all rose, partly reflecting logistical disruptions that hindered shipments from major exporting countries. For the year as a whole, the index was 15.4% below the 2022 average, reflecting well supplied global markets, although FAO’s All Rice Price Index (part of the FAO Cereal Price Index) registered a 21% increase, largely due to concerns about the impact of El Niño on rice production and in the aftermath of export restrictions imposed by India.
Meanwhile, the FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index declined by 1.4% from November, reflecting subdued purchases of palm, soy, rapeseed, and sunflower seed oil, with soy oil in particular impacted by a slowdown in demand from the biodiesel sector as well as improving weather conditions in major growing areas of Brazil. For 2023 as a whole, this index was 32.7% below the previous year’s level.
The FAO Sugar Price Index declined 16.6% from November, hitting a nine-month low, but was still 14.9% higher than December 2022. FAO noted that the plunge in sugar quotations was mainly driven by the strong pace of production in Brazil, along with reduced use of sugarcane for ethanol production in India.
Bucking the trend, the FAO Dairy Price Index increased by 1.6% from November but was still 16.1% below the December 2022 value. The monthly increase was led by higher price quotations for butter and cheese, underpinned by strong internal sales in Western Europe ahead of the holiday season. FAO also pointed out that strong global import demand led international whole milk powders to rise.