FAO warns about rising food prices

Feb. 3, 2011 at 11:22 PM

ROME, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- World food prices rose for the seventh month in a row in January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said, warning the trend may continue.

The agency, based in Rome, said its FAO Food Price Index, a commodity basket that tracks monthly changes in global food prices, reached 231 points in January, up 3.4 percent from December 2010, and the highest level since the agency started the index in 1990.

Prices of all commodity groups rose sharply in January, except meat, which remained unchanged.

"These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come. High food prices are of major concern especially for low-income food deficit countries that may face problems in financing food imports and for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food," said FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian.

Among items in the index, January cereal prices rose 3 percent from December but were down 11 percent below the April 2008 peak. The latest increase was blamed mostly on continuing increases in international prices of wheat and maize, amid tightening supplies.

The oils-fats price Index rose by 5.6 percent in January, close to the record June 2008 level. Increasing tight supply and demand balance across the oilseeds complex was cited as the main reason.

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